New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday appointed former health minister Jagat Prakash Nadda as its working president. The decision was taken at the meeting of the parliamentary board, the highest decision-making body, of the BJP.
The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah and defence minister Rajnath Singh, who are all members of the BJP’s parliamentary board.
“BJP won several elections under the leadership of Amit Shah. But since the PM appointed him as the home minister, Amit Shah himself said the responsibility of the party president should be given to someone else. The BJP parliamentary board has selected J.P. Nadda as working president," Singh told reporters.
Nadda’s appointment as the working president of the ruling party was being speculated after he was not made a member of the Union council of ministers. Even when he was part of the Modi cabinet in the government’s first term in office, he held some important posts in the party hierarchy.
In the run-up to the 2019 general elections, Nadda was in-charge of BJP’s election campaign in Uttar Pradesh, where the party faced a tough challenge following the alliance between the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Apart from handling crucial states for the BJP in the general elections, Nadda is also a member of the parliamentary board of the party.
Senior party leaders believe that the tenure of the working president could be held by Nadda till January 2020, before the process to elect its new party president can take place. “The appointment of J.P. Nadda as working president of the BJP could be just the first step towards his appointment as the BJP president. After the election process is over within the party, it is possible for Nadda to become the next BJP chief," said a senior BJP leader in the know of development, requesting anonymity.
With the assembly elections scheduled in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana later this year, the BJP leadership believes that the party needed a senior leader to manage the election campaign since Shah would be occupied with the home ministry. The stakes are high for the BJP in these states because the ruling party is in power in all three states, and may have to fight incumbency.
The BJP leadership believes in one-man-one post, and considering that Shah was part of the Union cabinet, someone had to take up the mantle to run the party.
Shah’s tenure as president was scheduled to end in January 2020, following the one-year extension just months before the recently-concluded 2019 general elections.
Shah had become the party president in July 2014 after the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance won the general elections in May 2014 and formed government.
While Rajnath Singh was the president of BJP in 2014, Shah was appointed as president after Singh joined the government and became the Union home minister.