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BJP switches into transition mode, appoints JP Nadda as working president

Fifty eight-year-old Nadda has been an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) veteran, the students wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh where he has spent many years as a pracharak of the RSS.

india Updated: Jun 18, 2019 00:02 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
J P Nadda,Amit Shah,BJP
The appointment was cleared by the BJP’s powerful parliamentary board, the top decision-making body of the party.(Sourced)

Former union health minister Jagat Prakash Nadda has been appointed working president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, defence minister Rajnath Singh announced on Monday.

A second-time Rajya Sabha member from Himachal Pradesh, Nadda will be formally elected as the chief of the ruling party after the party’s membership drive and organisational elections are over by December-January.

“Nadda has been appointed working president to ensure a smooth transition by the year-end,” a senior BJP leader said, suggesting that he was also the choice of the Rashtriya Swaymsevak Sangh, BJP’s ideological mentor, to succeed Shah.

This is the first time that the BJP has appointed a working president. Amit Shah, who became home minister, will continue as the BJP president till Nadda is formally elected to the post. A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the BJP’s parliamentary board, the party’s highest decision making body.

“Shah said at the meeting that he was unable to devote time to the party as he was also looking after the home ministry and the party president’s post should be given to some other leader,” Singh told reporters after the meeting.

“The board members urged Shah to continue till the completion of the membership drive,” Singh said.

The BJP will launch its membership drive from July 6 with an aim to enroll at least 2.20 crore new members over and above its exiting cadre base of 11 crore.

Once the membership drive is over, the BJP will hold its internal election as the mandal, district and state level. The election of the BJP president can take place only after organisational elections are complete in 50% of the states.

“This entire exercise will take about 6 months,” the second BJP leader said.

A 58-year-old leader with background of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the students’ wing of the RSS, Nadda was a prominent youth leader. He was elected to the HImachal Pradesh assembly in 1993, 1998 and 2007.

He was a cabinet minister in the BJP government between 1998 and 2003 and also between 2008 and 2010.

Nadda moved to the national politics in 2010 as the party’s national general secretary after the RSS appointed Nagpur leader Nitin Gadkari as the president of the BJP in 2009. Nadda made his entry to the Rajya Sabha in 2012 and was appointed a minister in the Narendra Modi government in the first expansion of the council of ministers in November 2014. He held the crucial health ministry since then. Nadda was not part of the council of ministers in Modi’s second stint as the prime minister, and it was seen as a precursor to the organizational responsibility that was to be assigned to him.

He was in contention for the BJP president’s post in 2014 after Rajnath Singh became the home minister. However, he lost to Amit Shah who was Modi’s choice for the BJP president then.

First Published: Jun 17, 2019 20:08 IST