BY VISHAL GULATI
Shimla: Jagat Prakash Nadda, 59, who has his roots in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliates, was appointed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national President on Monday, replacing his ‘mentor’ and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Former environment, health and law minister from Himachal Pradesh, which has just four of the Lok Sabha’s 543 seats, Nadda has tried to carve out his own space in national politics with his low profile and astute organisational skills, believe his party leaders.
He rose through the ranks from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the RSS, from where he has managed to build inroads from university to the state politics.
Nadda has been active on the national political scene since 2010 when he was picked by then BJP chief Nitin Gadkari to join his new team. He was made the party’s national general secretary.
Born on December 2, 1960, Nadda did his graduation from Patna and holds a post-graduate degree in political science and Bachelor of Legislative Law (LL.B) from Himachal Pradesh University in Shimla.
Starting his political career as a student leader of the ABVP in 1978, Nadda had also worked both with Gadkari and Shah even in the party’s youth wing — the Bharatiya Yuva Morcha — from 1991 to 1994.
His wife Mallika Nadda, who teaches history at the Himachal Pradesh University and is currently posted in university’s campus in Delhi, was an ABVP activist too, and its national general secretary from 1988 to 1999.
In the previous BJP government (2007-12) in the state, Nadda was forced to resign as Forest Minister in 2010 owing to differences between him and then chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.
Nadda was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2012.
Nadda won his first Assembly election from Bilaspur (Sadar) in Himachal in 1993. In 1998, he again won from that seat and became the state Health Minister.
He lost the Assembly elections in 2003, but again won in 2007 and was appointed the Forest Minister in the Himachal Pradesh.
Nadda, as a forest minister, was the brain behind opening forest police stations to check forest crimes, launching community-driven plantation, setting up forest ponds and the massive plantation of deodars to boost the depleting green cover of the ‘Queen of Hills’, as Shimla was fondly called by the British.
A close confidant of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Nadda was among those who were mentioned as likely aspirants to the BJP top post after Rajnath Singh was inducted into the Central government as the Home Minister in 2014.
Later, Nadda was inducted into the union cabinet in its first expansion in 2014 as the Health Minister.
Hailing Nadda’s appointment, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur told IANS it is a proud moment that a leader belonging to a small state in the national politics is today the leader of the country’s biggest national party.
His father N.L. Nadda, who was a Vice-Chancellor of the Ranchi University, resides in Bilaspur town.
(Vishal Gulati can be reached at [email protected])