October 19, 2014 3:49:11 am
With the RSS looking to play a more assertive role in the BJP’s affairs, and Narendra Modi and Amit Shah firmly in control of the party, it is clear that the Sangh’s new liaison man will have some tightrope walking to do. But those who know Dr Krishna Gopal Sharma, or “Gopalji” as he is called, insist that the 59 year old is the man for the job.
According to them, he is a good organiser, a speaker, an author, and the brain behind an innovative rural health initiative run by the sangh. Most importantly though, he played a key role in allocating tickets for the Lok Sabha elections this year in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand where the BJP recorded a spectacular performance.
Indeed, for someone who was once a personal assistant to the then RSS general secretary H V Sheshadri in the 1990, Sharma, a PhD holder in Botany, has come a long way. “He decided to work as a pracharak after he left his home in the 1970s although he had a bright career ahead of him. He has not looked back since,” said a Delhi-based businessman and former RSS pracharak who knew Sharma since they were students together.
Sharma was given the job last week, and the decision will be formally announced at a meeting of senior RSS functionaries in Lucknow on Sunday. It’s a tough task for Sharma, taking on a role that was once handled by heavyweights such as K S Sudarshan, Prof Rajendra Singh (Rajju Bhaiya) and Bhaurao Deoras, and till last week by Suresh Soni who had the job for the last decade.
Within the RSS, Sharma is known for his organisational skills and as a veteran who is sensitive but firm when needed. “Doctor sahib is ready to work with anyone in the interests of the sangh. Working with the medical community in remote areas is his main area of interest,” said an RSS man who has worked for nearly 20 years with Sharma in UP.
In the late 1990s, when Sharma was posted by the sangh to eastern UP, he initiated a “Dhanvantari Project” under which groups of healthcare professionals, including medical students, were sent to remote, tribal areas for a few weeks to “serve the local people”. The initiative, which was declared a success, is still being run by RSS.
One of Sharma’s skills, it is said, is his ability to build and maintain a network of contacts. For instance, after working for nine years in the northeast, Sharma still retains an office in Guwahati and uses a cellphone issued by the sangh there.
On the personal front, Sharma was born in Hasayan, a small town in UP’s Hathras, and is the fifth among seven children of D P Sharma, a retired mid-level state government official, who lives in Agra. He became a pracharak in the late 1970s after completing his doctorate with a thesis on “Impact of Climate Change on Mustard Flowers” from Agra University and earlier, his MSc from the same institution.
Interestingly, among the books Sharma has written is one on Dr B R Ambedkar. Then again, when RSS general secretary Suresh “Bhaiyaji” Joshi appointed him as one of the three joint general secretaries in March 2012, he was the first from UP to reach this position after Prof Rajendra Singh in the 1980s. Prof Singh, significantly, went on to become the RSS chief in 1994.
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