It has long been said that the road to Delhi passes through Lucknow. Of late, this has proved to be true not just for political parties, but also for the post of the working president of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
JP Nadda's elevation to the post of "working president" is the first of its kind in the history of the BJP (such a post did not exist in the BJP's predecessor, the Jana Sangh, either). In the next six months, Nadda is likely to become the full-fledged national president of the party.
Nadda belongs to Himachal Pradesh, and not Uttar Pradesh. He has risen through the ranks in the ABVP, of which he was a part during his student days in Himachal Pradesh and Bihar. He has held several important positions ranging from organisational posts at the district, state and national level; to ministerial positions at the state and central level. Before the BJP leadership decided to make him working president, his organisational skills were put to the test in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha election.
Nadda faced the tough task of beating the arithmetic of the SP-BSP-RLD mahagathbandhan. Although Narendra Modi and Amit Shah were clear about their target and strategy, somebody was needed on the ground round the clock to translate the strategy into reality. Nadda has now been rewarded for the party's performance in Uttar Pradesh, and his success in Lucknow has paved the way for one of the most powerful positions in Delhi.
Earlier, BJP president Amit Shah's reputation of being a master strategist emanated from the BJP's superlative performance in Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, and the subsequent Assembly election in the state. Shah's predecessor Rajnath Singh hails from Uttar Pradesh.
Under the current arrangement, Shah continues to be party president and Nadda is the working president. Shah's term as BJP president will end in December this year. Although he can remain the party president for another term as per the party's constitution, the BJP follows a norm of "one person, one post." Since Shah is now home minister, he will have to relinquish the post of the party president.
While the BJP has won a historic mandate in the parliamentary elections, elections are due in three states ruled by it " Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana. The Delhi Assembly elections will follow shortly thereafter. In Maharashtra, the BJP will face the tough task of carrying out seat-sharing negotiations with the Shiv Sena. The party may need Shah's proven capabilities to conduct the negotiations smoothly.
Firstpost spoke to several BJP leaders, all of whom said that the party cannot afford to allow Shah to relinquish his organisational responsibilities, given his track record and the results that he has delivered. In the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-LK Advani era, the two leaders controlled strategic decisions of the party to a large extent, while also holding the posts of prime minister and home minister respectively.
All organisational elections in the BJP have to conclude by the end of December, which means that organisational elections will have to be held at the block, district, state and national levels. Before that, a fresh membership drive will have to be undertaken. The leadership has set a target to increase membership by 20 percent in all the states. A meeting on the membership drive, chaired by former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, was held on Monday at the BJP headquarters.
A senior party leader said that in the next six months, Nadda will be able to familiarise himself with the functioning of the party president's post. Besides the day-to-day work, he will be part of all strategy meetings and will have time to prepare himself to hit the ground running when he is appointed as party president.
The decision to make Nadda the BJP's working president was made in the presence of Modi and other senior leaders. This leaves no doubt that he will be the next president. In the next six months, Nadda will get the opportunity to prove himself a worthy successor to Shah.