The challenges JP Nadda faces | HT Editorial
In a smoothly executed exercise in succession planning, Jagat Prakash Nadda, 59, was elected unopposed as the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday. He succeeds home minister Amit Shah, widely credited with the party’s evolution into the national political hegemon it is , and a man respected even by his opponents for his ability to win elections. It can be argued that Mr Nadda’s was more a selection than an election, but the way the BJP has selected its chief contrasts sharply with that followed by the Congress, which is making do with Sonia Gandhi as an interim president after Rahul Gandhi quit the post last year and the party couldn’t find a replacement. Sure, the BJP isn’t as shorn of dynasts as it would like people to believe, but Mr Nadda isn’t one and his election is seen by many as proof that it’s possible for people to work their way up in the BJP — perhaps right to the top.
Mr Nadda, a Rajya Sabha member who has also been the country’s health minister, faces several challenges. Some of these are organisational — How does Mr Nadda make his mark on a party which is pretty much associated with two people, Mr Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi? How much space will Mr Shah, the architect of many of the party’s electoral victories, give the new president when it comes to planning election campaigns? Equally important will be Mr Nadda’s ability to manage the relationship with the BJP’s ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and its various affiliates, all the while ensuring the party retains its autonomy (and voice).
Others are political. If there’s one area where the BJP has fared poorly, it’s in managing political allies. Will Mr Nadda be able to change that? Will he be able to stop the reverses the party has faced at the state level? More immediately, Mr Nadda will have to manage a campaign already underway, in all-important Delhi. And still others are ideological. With the nullification of Article 370, the passage of the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act, and the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Ram temple at Ayodhya, many of the boxes in the party’s manifesto have been checked. Mr Nadda will have an important role in deciding what the BJP focuses on next. It promises to be interesting.