Amit Shah is back with Narendra Modi in the government. He was the most powerful minister in the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat after being appointed as the youngest member of the state cabinet after 2002 assembly election.
Except for two years, 2010-12, Amit Shah has worked with Narendra Modi as his most trusted lieutenant. With Narendra Modi's elevation as prime ministerial candidate in 2013, Amit Shah was given the daunting task of reviving the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, the gateway to power at the Centre.
Amit Shah's election strategy and Narendra Modi's appeal worked wonders with the BJP winning 71 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh in 2014. For next five years, Amit Shah, as party president, worked for turning the BJP organisation into a well-oiled election winning machine. The Gujarat pair is reunited in the central government now.
With BJP president Amit Shah joining the Narendra Modi cabinet, the party leadership has to pass on to someone else. The BJP follows one-person-one-post convention in respect to crucial positions in the party and the government.
Jagat Prakash Nadda is the front runner to replace Amit Shah as the BJP president. Nadda was part of the previous Narendra Modi government. Known to keep a low profile and get things done, Nadda was instrumental in furthering Prime Minister Narendra Modi's flagship programmes including Ayushman Bharat, the health-insurance scheme of the government.
He has followed the route undertaken by Amit Shah to stake claim to the position of the BJP president. If Amit Shah was given the charge of Uttar Pradesh ahead of 2014 polls to prove his mettle, Nadda was yoked to the same electoral plough.
Amit Shah had set a 50 per cent vote share target in Uttar Pradesh which Nadda achieved (49.6 per cent) in the Lok Sabha election. The BJP won 62 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh foiling the arithmetic of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party.
Born in Bihar, trained in Himachal
Nadda was born in Patna to a Brahmin family from Himachal Pradesh. He was educated at St Xavier's school and Patna University before moving to Himachal Pradesh for pursuing an LLB.
His political initiation had happened in Patna University, where he was elected as secretary in 1977 students' union election in the middle of the JP movement against the then Indira Gandhi government at the Centre.
In Himachal Pradesh, Nadda rose through the ranks at a fast clip. He joined the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students' wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsecak Sangh (RSS). In 1984, the ABVP defeated the Students' Federation of India (SFI) in the Himachal Pradesh University for the first time. Nadda became the president of the students' union.
He was the national general secretary of the ABVP from 1986 to 1989, and appointed president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) in 1991. At 33, he contested and won Himachal Pradesh assembly election in 1993. He won the assembly polls two more times in 1998 and 2007.
Nadda was a minister in two BJP governments in Himachal Pradesh. He quit as a minister in Prem Kumar Dhumal government in 2010 over differences with the chief minister. Soon, he was brought into the national BJP team by then party president Nitin Gadkari.
To many political observers, Nadda has been a rival to Dhumal and his son Anurag Thakur, who has now been inducted in the Modi government. With Dhumal keeping hold on Himachal Pradesh politics, Nadda emerged on the national scene. He did not contest 2012 assembly polls.
Nadda goes national
He was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Himachal Pradesh unopposed in 2012. Considered an astute strategist like Amit Shah, Nadda was a key player working behind the scenes for the groundswell in favour of Narendra Modi in 2014.
He was the BJP general secretary and stationed at the party headquarters in Delhi to oversee nationwide campaign during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Rajnath Singh was the BJP president at the time of 2014 polls.
After Rajnath Singh was inducted into the government, Nadda was among the front-runners for the BJP president's post. However, Amit Shah became the party president. And, Nadda was given the responsibility to ensure BJP's victory in Maharashtra state election in 2014. The BJP won the polls with near majority numbers. Then, Nadda was inducted in the Modi cabinet and given key health portfolio replacing Harsh Vardhan.
With a stellar performance in the Narendra Modi government-I and a robust show in Lok Sabha election in Uttar Pradesh, Nadda has emerged as a natural successor to Amit Shah as BJP president.
Nadda's only challenger appears to be Bhupender Yadav, the BJP general secretary in-charge of Bihar and Gujarat. The BJP has scored 100 per cent result in both the states -- winning all 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat and capturing all 17 of its share in Bihar.