Low-profile yet resolute, silent but astute, 59-year-old Jagat Prakash Jadda is the saffron party’s new boss. Nadda belongs to a Brahmin family from Himachal Pradesh, but his roots span to Bihar where he got his initial lessons in politics as a student leader of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the RSS. His father, NL Nadda, was a vice-chancellor of Patna University.
Nadda has carved out his own space in national politics with his perseverance, shrewd organizational skills and all that served with his soft-spoken nature.
Born on December 2, 1960, Nadda pursued 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.
Kicking off his political career as a student leader of the ABVP in 1978, Nadda came into the active national political scene in 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.
From 1991 to 1994, Nadda worked with both Gadkari and Shah even in the party’s youth wing — the Bharatiya Yuva Morcha.
Nadda’s wife, Mallika Nadda, teaches history at the Himachal Pradesh University and is currently posted in university’s campus in Delhi. She was a ABVP activist, and its national general secretary from 1988 to 1999.
Nadda was forced to resign as Forest Minister in 2010 due to differences with then chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.
As a forest minister, Nadda was the brain behind opening forst 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.
Nadda was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2012. He lost the assembly elections in 2003 but again won in 2007 and was appointed the Forest Minister in Himachal Pradesh.
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.
Even though JP Nadda has evolved as an influential leader, it cannot be ruled out that his task becomes mammoth as he fills the shoes of Amit Shah, the Chanakya in Indian politics. Shah has spearheaded the saffron party like no one else. He has several accomplishments in his kitty as the BJP President. With Shah at the helm, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) saw a spectacular winning spree in a record number of states, including in the Northeast, where it had no identity.
Under Shah, the party was seen breaching bastions which were earlier out of its reach. Surely, this has set higher benchmarks for Nadda. Nevertheless, several leaders are of the view that Nadda’s “man-management skills” and “cordiality” will prove advantageous.