The BJP Parliamentary board on Monday elected former Union Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda as the party’s national working president. However, Amit Shah will remain the party’s national president. This is for the first time that the BJP has appointed a working president.
The exclusion of Nadda, a parliamentary board member and senior minister in the first Modi government, from the Cabinet had triggered speculation that he could take over as BJP chief from Shah. Nadda was in-charge of Uttar Pradesh for the 2019 elections, and the party performed impressively in the state, restricting the much-hyped Mahagathbandhan to 15 seats.
Confirming Nadda’s appointment as BJP working chief, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, “BJP won several elections under the leadership of Amit Shah Ji. But since PM appointed him Home Minister, Amit Shah Ji himself said the responsibility of party president should be given to someone else. BJP Parliamentary board has selected JP Nadda as working president.”
Congratulating Nadda, PM Narendra Modi tweeted that he “is a diligent ‘Karyakarta’ (worker) of the Party, who has risen through the ranks due to his hard work and organisational skills. Humble and affable, he is widely respected across the BJP family.”
Shri @JPNadda is a diligent Karyakarta of the Party, who has risen through the ranks due to his hardwork and organisational skills. Humble and affable, he is widely respected across the BJP family. Congratulations to him on becoming the Working President of the Party. pic.twitter.com/PCV7ZXjxAN
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 17, 2019
Earlier it was speculated that Shah might continue as BJP president until the organisation elections in the party were over. Shah had taken over as BJP president from Rajnath Singh in July 2014, when the latter joined the Cabinet as Home Minister. Interestingly, Nadda was tipped to become the party chief in 2014 too. In January 2016, Shah was elected BJP president unopposed for a full three-year term.
As the new BJP working president, Nadda is expected to work closely with Shah to oversee the party’s election campaign strategy in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana. Known for keeping a low profile, the 59-year old BJP leader from Himachal Pradesh is currently a Rajya Sabha member.
Nadda, known for his astute organisational skills, started his political career with the ABVP in Bihar, where his father was serving as the vice-chancellor of the Patna University. The RSS man is a law graduate from Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla, and it is from here that the seeds of his political career was laid.
In 1984, under Nadda’s leadership, the ABVP for the first time defeated the Students Federation of India (SFI), the student wing of the Left Front, in Himachal Pradesh University. Nadda then went on to become the student’s union president and held the post of national general secretary of the ABVP till 1989.
His leadership qualities did not go unnoticed and at the age of 31, Nadda was given the reins of the BJP’s youth wing, the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) in 1991. Nadda tried his hand at Assembly elections for the first time in 1993 from Himachal Pradesh and won from Bilaspur seat — from where he would go on to be elected three times.
Nadda again won from the Bilaspur seat in 1998 and was made the health minister in the Prem Kumar Dhumal government. Despite losing from the seat in 2003 in the midst of a Congress wave, Nadda made a comeback in 2007 and was again inducted into Dhumal’s cabinet.
However, Nadda’s differences with Dhumal soon came to the fore and he stepped down as forest minister following his appointment as BJP general secretary in 2010. In 2012, Nadda was elected unopposed as the Rajya Sabha member from Himachal Pradesh.
In 2017, Nadda lost out to Jairam Thakur to the chief minister’s post in Himachal Pradesh after the BJP wrested back power from Congress in the hill state. However, it seems Nadda’s managerial skills, which saw BJP winning 44 of the 68 seats in the state, has been duly rewarded now.