From Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Amit Shah: Tracing legacies of former BJP chiefs
So far of all the BJP party president’s only Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the Prime minister and LK Advani served as the deputy PM.Updated: Jan 21, 2020 16:24 IST
Jagat Prakash Nadda on Monday was elected unopposed as the 11th national president of the Bharatiya Janata Party. A former ABVP functionary and an ex union minister, Nadda took over from Amit Shah, who served as party president from 2014 and is also the union Minister for home affairs. Shah himself had taken over from the then party president Rajnath Singh who was also inducted into the union cabinet after the BJP came to power at the Centre with a thumping majority.
So far of all the BJP party president’s only Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the Prime minister and LK Advani served as the deputy PM.
Atal Bihar Vajpayee
After it broke away from the Janata Party, the Jan Sangh recast itself as the BJP in 1980. Vajpayee became It’s first National president and served In the position from 1980 to 1986. The only party president to be elected the Prime Minister of the country, Vajpayee was Conferred with the Bharat Ratna in2015.
Born in 1924 in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh he was a member of Parliament since 1957 and was elected to the fifth, sixth and seventh Lok Sabha and again to the 10th, 11th 12th and 13th Lok Sabha; he was also a member of the Rajya Sabha in 1962 in 1986.
Vajpayee’s legacy as a politician was his ability to strike a balance between the hard line ideology of his party and political pragmatism. He withstood international pressure and carried out nuclear tests in Pokharan, but also undertook a bus ride to Pakistan as a peace building measure, much to chagrin of the RSS. Despite his Sangh background, Vajpayee also a poet and an orator, had a testy relationship with the RSS during his term in office.
In 1986 the party elected LK Advani as its president, he served from 1986 to 1991. He got a second term as president between 1993 and 1998. And a third term between 2004-2005.
Advani served as the deputy prime minister when the NDA was first elected at the centre with Vajpayee as the Prime Minister. Advani who also served as the country’s information and broadcasting Minister and the home Minister was born in 1927 in Sindh, now in Pakistan.
He is credited with reviving the party that won just two seats in the 1984 general elections by galvanising support for the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. In the party One 121 seats in 1992 and 161 seats in 1996. In 9096 the party became the single largest in Lok Sabha. After the BJP won the 2014 polls Advani along with other senior leaders including Murli Manohar Joshi who has made part of a Margdarahak Mandal, which was seen as a move to sideline the old guard. Advani who had seven year long stint as the editor of Organiser, a Sangh affiliated magazine did not contest the 2019 elections.
In 1991 the party appointed Murli Manohar Joshi as its president. He served a term till 1993. Joshi, a A physicist was formerly a professor of physics in the Allahabad University. He credits RSS leaders like MS Golwalkar, Deendayal Upadhyay and Professor Rajendra Singh or Rajju Bhaiya for playing a major role in shaping his political thinking.
Joshi who held the portfolios of three ministries, human resource development, science and technology and ocean development, stoked a controversy after allegations were made by his political opens that under his charge the HRD ministry was saffronising education.
Joshi who was part of the Ram Janmabhoomi campaign was accused of doctoring history textbooks. Elected to the Lok Sabha, he became the general secretary of the party in Parliament and was also a Rajya Sabha member between 1992 and 1996. Proponent of Swadeshi he stressed on reviving Sanskrit education, modernising madarsas and started the Sarva Shiksha abhiyan, an education for all programme.
As the President of the BJP Joshi led the Ekta Yatra, that culminated in Kashmir with the national flag being raised.
In 1998 Kushabhau Thakre was elected party president for a three year term. Also a Sangh acolyte, he was among the founder members of the BJP. While he held many positions in the party over the years, he is credited with strengthening the party fold and grooming a long line of leaders who eventually rose to power.
Born in Dhar, Madhya Prasesh, he was credited with strengthening the part in MP and then in Chhattisgarh, which was carved out as a new state. Jailed during emergency, Thakre was a bachelor, and steeped in the Sangh’s ideology and was known for maintain grassroots connections with party workers.
When dissent broke out in the party ahead of his elevation, he worked to galvanise the party cadre to focus on the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and colleagues recall he was able to bring up the tally from the previous election.
Thakre was succeeded by Bangaru Laxman who was president for a year till 2001 and has to face an inglorious exit following a sting operation.
He was caught on camera accepting money from people who pretended to broker on behalf of arms companies. He was subsequently booked for corruption and sentenced to a prison term.
He was the head of the BJP’s scheduled caste morcha for several years and spent time in prison during emergency.
Jana Krishnamurthy who was also a former law minister became the party president from 2001 to 2002. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat and held in high esteem for his principles say party colleagues. Having started as a RSS volunteer, the Madurai born, Krishnamurthy opted for the BJP at a time when the party did not evoke much response in the southern states.
He left a full time position in the Sangh for the BJP on the instruction of the RSS leadership and was a recognised face against emergency from Tamil Nadu.
M Venkaiah Naidu
M Venkaiah Naidu, a close confidant of LK Advani took over the reigns of the party in 2002 till 2004. An activist of the ABVP who held several party posts and portfolios in the government, Naidu is currently the Vice President of the county.
An activist from Andhra Pradesh who was once in the forefront of the anti HIndi agitation, Naidu became a Rajya Sabha member in 1998. From 1978-85 he was member of the Andhra Pradesh assembly, and was known for raising issues related to farmers and agriculture. As part president he coined the slogan back to the villages, urging the party to build its cadre in the rural areas to expand its base.
In 2005 Rajnath Singh took over from Advani who completed a third term between 2004 and 2005. Singh was also given a year’s second term in 2013.
Singh who started his political journey as an MLA in the UP assembly in 1977 moved to the national scene, holding various positions including the national general secretary of tbr youth wing.
He was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1994 and became a union minister in the Vajpayee cabinet in 1999.
As party president he undertook the Bharat Suraksha Yatra to highlight the issue of national security and increasing terror threats.
At present he holds the office of defence minister.
Nitin Gadkari took over as party president from 2009 to 2013. An affable Marathi leader who remains a committed RSS man, Gadkari earned himself the title of a doer. He began his political career with the ABVP during emergency, and rose to become a minister in Maharashtra and subsequently at the centre.
Rural connectivity and empowerment of the socially backward were the focus of his presidency.
In 2014 Amit shah was given charge to head the party when Rajnath Singh became the union home minister.
It was during his presidency that the party grew both in terms of numbers and geographically. Shah stressed on strengthening the party and ensure its presence at every district across the country. He also focused on contesting elections from the Panchayat upwards.