The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday named former Indian Administrative Services officer Arvind Kumar Sharma its candidate for the upcoming Legislative Council elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Sharma, who is considered a close aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had joined the party on Thursday, soon after opting for voluntary retirement from the IAS.

He is likely to be given a key position in the Adityanath-led government in the state, according to multiple reports. Besides Sharma, the BJP also named Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma, President of the party’s state unit Swatantra Dev Singh and Lakshman Prasad Acharya its candidates for the polls.

Uttar Pradesh, which has a bicameral legislative structure, will undergo polls for 12 seats in the Upper House on January 28. In the 100-member Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council, currently the Samajwadi Party has 55 MLCs, BJP has 25 members, while the Bahujan Samaj Party has eight. The saffron party is likely to win majority of the seats up for grabs, according to The Indian Express.

A Gujarat cadre officer hailing from Uttar Pradesh’s Mau district, Sharma has long been one of the trusted bureaucrats of Modi since his tenure as Gujarat chief minister.

He began his career as an assistant collector in Gujarat and became a secretary in the chief minister’s office in October 2001, when Modi took the chair, according to The Indian Express.

He rose till the rank of additional principal secretary to the chief minister, before accompanying Modi to Delhi, after he became the prime minister in 2014. In Delhi, he was first appointed joint secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office and remained in the PMO till April 2020, before being made the secretary of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises ministry.

On January 11, he took early retirement from the IAS, before joining the BJP.