Former Union Minister J.P. Nadda (59) was on Monday elected unopposed as the BJP’s national president, making him the 11th party chief.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was at the party headquarters to felicitate Mr. Nadda on his election, called him an “outstanding karyakarta” (party worker). He said the event reflected the party’s long time policy of promoting workers vertically while expanding the party horizontally across the country. “That is the reason why generation after generation we have leaders to take the party forward.”
‘Opposition spreading untruths’
Mr. Modi also took the occasion to make a few points on his government’s policies, and without naming the ongoing protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), alluded to the Opposition “misinformation campaign” against it.
“There are people who dislike the principles which guide us. Our problems are not because we are doing something wrong, it is because the people are blessing us. Those rejected in the polls have very few weapons in their arsenals, one of which is to spread falsehood. They repeatedly spread lies and conspiracy and spread it through their ecosystem. At such a a time, BJP workers have to know that they are unlikely to get any help from ‘madhyams’ [media] and nor are we used to it. We have been growing because of direct conversation with the people and that is our strength, and that is what we must do,” he said.
Mr. Modi was also fulsome in his praise for outgoing party chief and Home Minister Amit Shah who, he said, not only expanded the party’s base exponentially in his tenure but also managed to tread the thin line between the party and the government. “It is very easy for a ruling party to cross lines, and it is to Amit Shah’s credit that all the ‘maryadas’ [decencies] of the separation of party and government were maintained.”
Earlier in the day, Mr. Nadda was declared elected unopposed by former Union Minister Radha Mohan Singh, who was in charge of the polls. Three former party presidents – Mr. Shah, Ministers Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari, filed nominations on behalf of Mr. Nadda, as did the State unit presidents. His election was a foregone conclusion since June, 2019, when he became the first working president of the party, with Mr. Shah having joined the Cabinet in May.
Mr. Nadda was escorted to the party president’s office, where he assumed his seat. “It is only in the BJP that somebody like me without a political background can rise to this position, it is a party that respects its ‘karyakartas’,” he said.
At the felicitation ceremony in the evening, Mr. Shah said Mr. Nadda’s organisational skills and his rise from a ‘karyakarta’ to party chief was an example of a policy continuity in the BJP.
A challenging year ahead
Mr. Nadda, who has been a member of the Union Cabinet as Health Minister in the first Modi government as well as Minister and Leader of the Opposition in the Himachal Assembly, will have a challenging year ahead of him, with the coming Delhi and Bihar Assembly polls. The more challenging part of his tenure would be maintaining the successful innings of his predecessor. Mr. Shah is considered the most successful BJP chief till date with more than 14 Assembly victories since he took over in July 2014 and the thumping victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Considered a soft-spoken and affable consensus builder, Mr. Nadda will be expected to exercise a tight rein on the party organisation and revive its prospects in the States where it has lost the polls, especially in the Hindi-belt States like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh and also in big States like Maharashtra.