(EDS: Adding Sharma's quotes and Nath's tweet) Bhopal, Feb 15 (PTI) In a curious move, Khajuraho MP Vishnu Dutt Sharma was on Saturday appointed as the new president of the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, replacing incumbent Rakesh Singh, believed to be a trusted lieutenant of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
The announcement to appoint Sharma (49), a Brahmin and the incumbent general secretary of the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, was made by the party's national general secretary Arun Singh in an official communique.
'BJP chief Jagat Prakash Nadda ji has appointed Shri Vishnu Dutt Sharma as the president of the Madhya Pradesh unit,' it said.
Speculations were rife in the state BJP that Rakesh Singh, the MP from Jabalpur, might get another term.
Singh had last month organised a grand Pro-Citizenship (Amendment) Act rally in his constituency, which was attended by Amit Shah.
However, the BJP leadership picked Sharma for the post, a move that has come as a surprise to many.
Sharma, who is popularly known as V D, is a staunch follower of the RSS. He is credited for strengthening the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students' wing of the RSS, in Madhya Pradesh in 1990s.
Sharma had served as the national general secretary of the ABVP. He had joined the BJP in 2013.
With Sharma's appointment, the BJP leadership has given yet another key post to a Brahmin leader in Madhya Pradesh after Gopal Bhargava, who is the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly.
Meanwhile, notwithstanding the greetings extended to him by Chief Minister Kamal Nath, Sharma alleged that the ruling Congress has 'messed' the affairs of the state.
'The Kamal Nath-led government has made a mess of Madhya Pradesh. Strong and capable workers of the BJP would give a befitting reply to it for the rampant mismanagement created in the state,' he told reporters in Khajuraho after offering prayers at a temple.
Earlier in the day, Nath tweeted: 'Many, many congratulations to MP's Khajuraho parliamentarian Shri Vishnu Dutt Sharma on his appointment as BJP state chief'.
'I hope that he (Sharma) would lend his support to the state government on initiatives launched for the development, progress and well being of the people of state,' the CM tweeted.
Sharma said, 'Madhya Pradesh was the state of Kushabhau Thakre (the late president of the BJP), Rajmata (Vijaya Raje) Scindia and Sunderlal Patwa. Leaders like Kailash Joshi (former CM of undivided MP) have built the BJP's organisational network in the state'.
Pointing out that the BJP is a cadre-based organisation, Sharma appealed to the party workers to strengthen it further. PTI LAL COR NP NSK NSK NSK