Shah had taken over in July 2014 after Rajnath Singh quit as BJP chief soon after he was appointed the union home minister. However, in a departure from the past, Shah continued as the party chief for seven months ostensibly to oversee the Assembly polls in Jharkhand, Haryana and Maharashtra.
As Modi himself reminded the gathering at the BJP national
headquarters, Nadda is a close lieutenant of his since the early 1990s. Modi then handled the party’s organisational affairs in Himachal Pradesh and Nadda was the BJP youth wing chief. Modi reminisced that Nadda and he would drive around for party work on a two-wheeler.
The biggest challenge for Nadda in his three-year term will be to come out of the shadow of Shah, who is likely to continue to keep a firm grip on party affairs, particularly as most of the state unit chiefs elected recently are leaders considered close to him. Nadda, a quiet man more comfortable remaining behind the scenes, is also acknowledged as an efficient organisation builder. He would need to keep the party battle-ready for Assembly polls not just in Bihar later this year, but more crucially in West Bengal and Assam in May 2021.
Nadda was elected unopposed after he emerged the only leader in the fray following the nomination process. Shah said the BJP was different from other political parties as it is not based on the leadership of a particular caste or dynasty. Nadda’s father was vice chancellor of Patna University.
Nadda may not hail from a political family but married into one. His mother-in-law Jayashree Banerjee, a significant influence on his political life, is a former BJP Lok Sabha MP from Jabalpur, multiple term Madhya Pradesh legislator and former state minister. Nadda hails from Himachal Pradesh but grew up in Patna. He was active in students’ politics
in Patna University and Himachal Pradesh
University, the BJP youth wing chief in 1991, elected a legislator in Himachal Pradesh in 1993, and a minister in the state in 2007.
During his speech, without mentioning the Congress by name and alluding to anti-CAA protests, the PM said, “Those rejected by the people have limited means but one of them is to spread falsehoods. They have a full eco-system for that.”
“BJP workers have always drawn their strength from the people of India. We do not need to seek validation an eco-system that will never accept us,” he said. Modi said, “There are some people who dislike the very principles which guide us. That is why there are attempts to create problems.”
The PM claimed there were 10 to 15 pro-CAA rallies daily across the country attended by 50,000 to 100,000 people but suggested the media was unlikely to be fair to the party as evident in the lack of coverage of these rallies. “This game will continue,” Modi said, urging workers to reach out directly to people.