JP Nadda is a low-profile leader and prefers to work behind the curtains. Largely known to stay away from media glare, Nadda has proven he was right for the job every time he was given a new responsibility. He is a soft-spoken and easily accessible to everyone in the party.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday appointed Jagat Prakash Nadda as the working president of the party. The decision to appoint Nadda as the BJP’s working president was taken at the meeting of the BJP parliamentary board, the highest decision-making body of the party. The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president and Home Minister Amit Shah, Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman, Nitin Gadkari and others. The decision was taken within a month of the Lok Sabha elections results which saw BJP under the leadership of Amit Shah returning to power with a greater majority than its 2014 sweep.
Nadda had served in the previous Modi government as Health minister. This time, when his name didn’t figure on the list of ministers to take oath at the swearing-in ceremony on May 30, speculation began doing the rounds that Nadda would be chosen for the post of party president. According to the BJP’s constitution, a person can’t hold two offices at one time and hence the party was forced to find Shah’s successor.
Shah had also said that it would be difficult to discharge the responsibilities as BJP president and country’s Home minister simultaneously. Therefore, it became necessary for the party to find a successor. However, at the parliamentary board meeting, leaders decided that Shah should continue as the BJP president till Assembly elections are over in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand. Elections to these states are due later this year.
While many would argue that matching Shah’s envious record is a tall ask, Nadda, a relatively low-profile leader, has shown he has what it takes to lead the world’s largest political organisation. Besides administrative experience on his side, Nadda also has a few other factors going for him.
1. Confidence of Modi-Shah
Nadda, 58, comes from the hill state of Himachal Pradesh. He is considered very close to Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Nadda and Modi had worked together in the organisation for years when Modi was given the responsibility to expand the party in Himachal Pradesh in his early days of politics. Since then, Nadd and Modi know each other’s skills and working style.
Prior to his election to the Rajya Sabha in April 2012, Nadda was a member of Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly. He was first elected to the Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly in 1993. He was re-elected in 1998. While he served as the leader of the BJP in the Legislative Assembly between 1994 and 1998, Nadda was made a minister in the second term. He was re-elected to the Legislative Assembly in 2007 and served as a minister in Prem Kumar Dhumal’s government. He, however, didn’t seek re-election in 2012 and was called to Delhi.
2. RSS backing
Nadda has a vast experience of working in the organisation. He has a very clean image down the party line. Besides Modi and Shah, he also has a strong backing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Nadda, a Brahmin by caste, was born in Patna in 1960. His father NL Nadda was Vice-Chancellor of the Ranchi University.
Nadda was elected as the Secretary to the University of Patna in 1977. He then went to his home state and joined the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of RSS. It was under his leadership, the ABVP defeated Students Federation of India in the Himachal Pradesh University and went on to become the students’ union president.
He served as the national general secretary of the ABVP between 1986 and 1989. Nadda’s discipline and leadership skills helped him to gain the attention of the senior RSS leadership. In 1991, he was appointed as the president of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM).
3. Low-profile leader
Nadda is a low-profile leader and prefers to work behind the curtains. Largely known to stay away from media glare, Nadda has proven he was right for the job every time he was given a new responsibility. Soft-spoken and easily accessible to everyone in the party, Nadda was inducted into Modi’s Cabinet and made Minister of Health and Family Welfare.
4. Able administrator
Convent educted and a graduate in, Nadda is today among the few BJP leaders who are known for their astute organisational skills. A well disciplined BJP worker, Nadda’s name for the top job in the BJP didn’t figure for the first time. Back in 2014, Nadda’s name was doing the rounds to replace then president Rajnath Singh who was inducted into the Modi government as a Home Minister. But Amit Shah, who comes from Modi’s home state and worked with him in Gujarat, was chosen to replace Rajnath. After five years, now that Shah has joined the Modi’s Cabinet once again, Nadda appears to be the natural choice to helm the party’s affairs.
When Nitin Gadkari was the president of BJP, Nadda was brought to the party’s national team. He was a member of Dhumal government in Himachal Pradesh in 2010 when he was asked to quit and come to Delhi. Since then, he has played a constructive role within the party.
5. Delivering the UP miracle
Nadda was appointed as in-charge of party affairs in Uttar Pradesh by Amit Shah in January 2019. He was assigned the task to keep the party cadre intact and discipline and encourage them to reach out to the people ahead of the polls. Nadda once again proved himself that he is the right candidate to lead the organisation. From deciding candidates to preparing the party’s strategies, Nadda played a clinical role that helped the party repeat its stellar performance in the country’s most politically crucial state. The BJP which was facing a stiff challenge from the BSP-SP-RLD combine in the state, outplayed the alliance as it won 63 of the 80 seats.