The 11th national president of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which came into being on April 6, 1980, forty years ago, Shri Jagat Prakash Nadda has many firsts to his credit. He is the first person from Himachal Pradesh to occupy the coveted office of the national president of a national political organisation. Earlier, he was the first working national president since June 2019. He was the first national general secretary and the first member of BJP Parliamentary Board from Himachal. In 1991, he became the president of the BJP Yuva Morcha.
In 1993, he contested Himachal Assembly election for the first time and won, although the BJP lost heavily and could win only seven seats. He also became the first person to have won the election for the first time and further elected as the leader of the BJP Legislative Party in Himachal Vidhan Sabha.
Born on December 2, 1960 at Patna (Bihar) to Shri N.L. Nadda and Smt Krishna, JP Nadda did his schooling at St. Xavier’s School, Patna. He had his graduation from Patna University. But he got his degree in Law from Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla. As a child, he represented Bihar State by participating in All India Junior Swimming Championship held in Delhi that ignited in him the sportsmanship.
His father was an academician, who later became Vice Chancellor of Patna University. Born and brought up in a non-political family, a JP got fascinated by the Sampuran Kranti (Total Revolution) launched by JP (Jaya Prakash Narain) in 1973. He “was inspired by the JP Movement to join the Chhatra Sangharsh Samiti”. That was his initiation into politics at the age of 13 as a student. He was detained for 45 days for leading a campaign for upgrading schools. Later, he got associated with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
He earned his name in ABVP for his organisational acumen, dedication and commitment. A senior colleague narrated that Shri Nadda was given an assignment in AVBP for which he became so much devoted that he didn’t go home for 6-7 days. The family had no knowledge of where he was. Worried his father came searching for him in ABVP office at night. He was astonished to find his son Nadda sleeping on just a bedsheet on the floor.
On December 11, 1991, Shri Nadda married Dr. Mallika, daughter of Smt. Jayshree Banerjee, a former Lok Sabha MP. This further strengthened his roots in national politics.
In 1991, Shri Nadda was made national president of BJP Yuva Morcha. Two years later, to infuse fresh blood in the state politics he was asked to contest his home constituency Bilaspur for the Himachal Vidhan Sabha.
In 1998, he was inducted as a Cabinet Minister in Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal’s BJP government with the charge of Health and Family Welfare. In December 2007, he was made Cabinet Minister for Forest, Environment, Science and Technology, Government of Himachal Pradesh in Shri Dhumal’s second term as Chief Minister. It was during this period that the forest cover in the State recorded an impressive expansion. His qualities of head and heart and organisational skills attracted the eye of the then BJP national president Shri Nitin Gadkari who in 2010 assigned him the onerous duty as BJP’s national general secretary. He gladly preferred to quit Himachal cabinet and serve the organisation. In 2012, he was elected as a Member of Rajya Sabha. In 2014, after the BJP under Shri Narendra Modi romped home with an absolute majority, a first non-Congress political party to do so in 72 years of India’s Independence, his name cropped up for the post of BJP president vacated by Shri Rajnath Singh who was made Union Home Minister. But Shri Modi inducted Shri Nadda as Health Minister and Shri Amit Shah who was instrumental in BJP winning 80 of the 84 seats in UP was made the national president.
In 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Shri Nadda was in charge of Uttar Pradesh. It was because of his skills and electoral strategy that BJP won 64 out of 80 seats, belying negative reports of election result predictors.
During the last organisational membership drive under Shri Amit Shah, the BJP earned the rare distinction of being the world’s largest political party. In 2019, Shri Amit Shah was elected to Lok Sabha from Gujarat. Shri Modi inducted him into his cabinet as Home Minister. In keeping with the party’s policy of one-man one post, Shri Nadda was in June 2019 made the working president of the party.
On the conclusion of BJP’s organisational elections during which the party increased its membership by another more than 8 crore members, Shri Nadda was unanimously elected as national president. On January 22, he became the president of the world’s largest political organisation.
At the time of felicitating Shri Nadda, both PM Narendra Modi and outgoing president Shri Amit expressed confidence that under Shri Nadda BJP would continue to rise and scale greater and greater heights.
Shri Modi recalled his association with Shri Nadda when they both travelled on a two-wheeler scooter while working for the organisation. He said while being in charge of the Himachal BJP, he had the chance to work with Shri Nadda closely. He had great potential, Shri Modi recognised.
Speaker after speaker at the function stressed that BJP was a political organisation with a difference. It is the only party where an ordinary but devoted party worker could be the party’s national president and a Prime Minister. Here, they said, the dynasty had no meaning. Shri Nadda is recognised as a soft-spoken leader who is very accessible to the common party karyakartas. He shuns the limelight. He is satisfied with being the man behind the machine. Yet he is a hard taskmaster when it comes to implementing party decisions and achieving targets.
His wife Mallika, a college teacher of History, is the person behind the man in the proverbial sense of “a woman behind a successful man”. She recognises that with Shri Nadda’s rise in politics there has always been simultaneous less time he could devote to the family. But she and the children are equally appreciative of him. They recognise and go by the BJP’s philosophy: Nation first, party second and person and family the last. They are fully determined to do everything to help him reach the citadel of glory for the party.
(The writer is a senior journalist)