BJP general secretary Amit Shah and JP Nadda have emerged as the frontrunners to replace Rajnath Singh as the next chief of the party, a situation that has arisen with the Lucknow MP joining the government.
The one-man-one-post principle of the party would require Singh to relinquish his organisational assignment. “Discussions are still on within the party to choose a suitable replacement to Singh. The announcement might take some time,” a BJP leader said.
Shah, who led the party to an unprecedented victory in Uttar Pradesh, winning 71 out of 80 seats, has won praises both in the party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak
Sangh (RSS). With three general secretaries — Ananth Kumar, Dharmendra Pradhan and Thawarchand Gehlot — joining the government, Shah emerged as a strong probable among the remaining office bearers.
The only negative that could spoil his chances, party leaders say, were some pending cases relating to his tenure as the Gujarat home minister.
It is in this context that a strong group within the party is pushing the case of Nadda, an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) veteran who has spent years as a pracharak of the RSS.
Nadda is widely respected in the RSS for his integrity and the years of service that he has rendered to the cause championed by the Sangh parivar. He became president of BJP’s youth wing at an early age of 31 in 1991 and shares good relations with all factions of the party.
He is also said to enjoy the support of Narendra Modi, who was once the prabhari of Himachal Pradesh, Nadda’s home state.
In comparison to Shah, Nadda is, however, considered a lightweight for the high-profile job. “Even if Nadda becomes the chief of the party, he would be easily overshadowed by Amit Shah, who has suddenly become immensely popular among party cadre,” another BJP leader said.
His low profile image could, however, work to his advantage, particularly, since Modi would be keen to ensure that no conflicting signals were sent about a second power centre at the party’s headquarters on Ashoka Road.