The BJP has once again proved that it is a party with a difference where a simple grassroots karyakarta has the chance to reach the top. There is a place for everyone here and respect for the principles, ideals and hard work
If ideals and ideologies are the theoretical heart of a party, the karyakartas are its practical limbs. In the case of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the rise of karyakartas from rank and file to the top brass has become a tradition. With grassroots activist Shri Jagat Prakash Nadda (JP Nadda) getting appointed as national president, the party has once again displayed its commitment to both its ideals and activists.
Shri Nadda is known to be a soft-spoken, affable gentleman with forceful oratory skills and political acumen in public life. He started his activism as a student of Patna University when he joined the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). Later, he was elected as president of Himachal Pradesh University Student Union as ABVP candidate. He was the first elected president from ABVP in HPUSU, Shimla, which was dominated by the communists. Under the mentorship of senior ABVP functionary Shri Sunil Upadhyay in Himachal Pradesh and national organising secretary Shri Madan Das, he devoted his life as fulltime karyakarta of ABVP and in few years, he was given the responsibility of Delhi as state organising secretary. He was a regular visitor to JNU and DU campuses during this phase. Many of the current Delhi BJP leadership either have worked with him or were groomed by him.
He presented a rare combination of learning, intelligence and organisational skills. His hard work was rewarded by the top leadership and he was made the national President of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJP Youth Wing). This was the time when Dr Murli Manohar Joshi became the national president of BJP. As BJYM president, Shri Nadda campaigned in different parts of the country against fledging terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir and participated in Rashtriya Ekta Yatra led by Dr Murli Manohar Joshi.
After his successful stint with BJYM, Shri Nadda stepped into electoral politics and contested and won assembly elections from his hometown of Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh. As an MLA, Opposition Leader and Minister in Himachal Pradesh government, he started many development projects in his constituency and the state. The impact of developmental work is very much visible today in Bilaspur.
When the national leadership called upon him, Shri Nadda left his ministerial post and joined the team of then national president Shri Nitin Gadkari as national general secretary. From 2010 to 2014 he worked in this capacity for the party and completed many tasks ranging from in charge of Chhattisgarh to managing affairs of national party headquarters. He became Union Health Minister in the first phase of Modi Government and threw his weight behind landmark schemes like Ayushman Bharat, Jan Aushadhi, AIIMS in every state, Mission Indra Dhanush, Matrtva Suraksha Abhiyan, etc.
Among the schemes launched under him, Ayushman Bharat proved to be a masterstroke. It was started a few months ahead of the general elections becoming one of the key discussion points in successive months and subsequently a major factor in Lok Sabha elections. Ayushman Bharat had become the biggest health insurance scheme of the world aiming to cover around 50 crore people. Shri Nadda was also given the charge of the key state of Uttar Pradesh just before the Lok Sabha election. The BJP went on to win more than 60 seats from this state – a target that had been declared unachievable by the political pundits.
It became apparent that Shri Nadda was likely to be next party president when he was not inducted in Modi 2.0 in May 2019. In July 2019 he was given the charge of working president and on January 20, 2020 he was elected as national president. Respecting the principle of one-person, one-post, Home Minister Amit Shah left the position of party president completing a smooth transition process in the largest political party of the world.
Even as Shri Nadda assumes this responsibility, the BJP is facing challenges from many sides. The party lost Jharkhand state elections, was unable to form government in Maharashtra and did not get a majority in Haryana.
The BJP is also facing a tough contest in Delhi Assembly polls even as the opposition forces seem to be joining ranks on the issue of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). The BJP is trying to counter and douse the protests and propaganda campaign by organising public rallies explaining the need for CAA.
The Inevitable Comparison
It is the human instinct to compare the performance and achievements of two individuals, especially if they have worn the same hat in recent times. Here too, one shouldn’t be surprised by likely comparisons of Shri Nadda with his predecessor and now Home Minister Amit Shah. It was during Shah’s tenure as the president that the BJP became the biggest political party of the world and also won around a dozen assembly elections, besides crossing the 300 mark in a Lok Sabha election. But as Shri Shah himself said, the BJP is yet to achieve its culmination indicating the continuation of his work by the new president.
The said culmination point would be reached when the party finds strong ground in states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Orissa—a large region once ruled by the Chola kings. Under the leadership of Shri Nadda, the BJP needs to increase its base in this region that can help it push the scores in 2024 general elections. BJP watchers will also be looking out for any new innovative projects that Shri Nadda would bring to the table.
You can expect a definite continuation of the work culture, systemic order, and authority established by Shri Amit Shah during his tenure. At the same time, Shri Nadda’s trademark personal touch towards every issue and individual is very likely to make inroads.
The party which was established by SP Mookerjee and Deendayal Upadhyaya, and carried forward by Atal Behari Vajpayee and Shri LK Advani, has today been brought to unprecedented heights by Shri Narendra Modi and Shri Amit Shah. The torch is now in the steady hands of Shri Jagat Prakash Nadda, who comes from the same glorious tradition as these stalwarts.
The BJP has once again proved that this is a party with a difference where a simple grassroots karyakarta has the chance to reach the top. There is a place for everyone here and respect for the principles, ideals and hard work.
(The writer teaches Political Science in University of Delhi)