After Nadda Who? The Search For The New BJP President Is On

Swarajya Staff

Jun 10, 2024, 09:38 PM | Updated Jun 12, 2024, 11:03 AM IST

Who will succeed Nadda in the BJP president's chair?
Who will succeed Nadda in the BJP president's chair?

New Delhi is abuzz with a flurry of new announcements as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) takes charge of the Union Government for the third-time in a row. 

While the coalition led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the portfolio allotment for the new Cabinet on June 10, BJP is expected to announce its new party face soon too.

The search for the new party chief is on as the current party President Jagat Prakash Nadda’s term ends this month on 30 June.

The saffron party’s constitution which delineates the rules and regulations for the party’s functioning also provides details for the election of the party President. 

As per Article 19 of the rule-book, at least twenty members from a state’s executive council can propose a name for the role. The person nominated should have been a part of the council for at least four terms and should have been a member of the party for at least fifteen years. 

However, in order to be considered as a candidate, the proposal should be seconded by party state executives of at least four other states. After finalisation of candidates, voting is held where members of national as well as state executive are eligible to vote.

The elected party President then serves a term of three years which can be extended for three years only once.

As of now the senior party functionaries are tight lipped over the names being deliberated for the organisation’s top job.

However, there is unanimity among observers that the future President will continue to be someone who has been associated either with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)- BJP’s ideological parent or someone who has been a part of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), student organisation affiliated to the RSS.

Notably, the emphasis on selecting an 'organisation' man will be more considering the party's poor show in the recently concluded general elections. In the results for the polls, the BJP's seat share dropped from 303 in 2019 to 240 at the present.

Among the prospective names being speculated as the future BJP President, four are- Sunil Bansal, Om Mathur, Vinod Tawde and Devendra Fadnavis.

While Bansal and Tawde are among the seven General Secretaries of the party, Fadnavis is presently the Deputy Chief Minister and member of the party’s all powerful Central Election Committee.

Sunil Bansal 

Considered to be one of the few close confidantes of the former BJP President and Home Minister Amit Shah, Bansal hails from the state of Rajasthan. The BJP leader first cut his teeth in social life as a Swayamsevak in the RSS and later as a student activist in the ABVP. 

Bansal’s first tryst with power was as a General Secretary of the Rajasthan University Students Council. However, he shot to fame after being appointed as the Co-Incharge of the BJP’s Uttar Pradesh unit.

Capitalising on his deep network within the party and his ability to mobilize cadres, Bansal is credited with orchestrating the BJP's successful campaigns in Uttar Pradesh, especially the landslide victory in the 2017 state assembly elections and the strong performance in the 2019 general elections. 

Om Prakash Mathur

A native of Rajasthan like Bansal, Mathur has been influential in the party's organisation and electoral strategies, particularly in his home state as well as in Uttar Pradesh and Chattisgarh.

Mathur's political journey began with the RSS as a Pracharak in 1972. Later he transitioned to the BJP, where he rose through the ranks to first become the General Secretary of the Rajasthan state unit in 1990 and later as its President in 2008.

Considered to be a shrewd electoral strategist, Mathur has been in charge of the party's affairs in several states, including Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh. It is in Uttar Pradesh where Mathur as Central Election Committee's delegate played a pivotal role in strategizing and leading successful election campaigns in the 2017 state assembly polls.

His work in Chhattisgarh is particularly notable, where as the state in-charge for the state assembly polls, he helped the party achieve majority and win back trust of voters after a gap of five years which saw Congress rule over the state.

Electorally, Mathur has served as a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha, representing the state of Rajasthan. The BJP leader is considered to be close to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi since the latter's tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat.

Vinod Tawde

A prominent Maratha face within BJP from Maharashtra, Tawde is a born and bred Mumbaikar. Starting out as an RSS Swayamsevak first and joining ABVP later, Tawde swiftly rose through the ranks to become the Secretary General of the latter in 1988 and National Secretary in 1993.

In 1995 when the first Shiv Sena-BJP coalition government came to power in the state, Tawde was appointed as the General Secretary of Maharashtra BJP. Barring a gap between 1999 to 2002 when he was the President of the party’s powerful Mumbai Unit, Tawde continued to serve the BJP as one of its State General Secretaries until 2011.

Apart from the organisational work, Tawde has also dabbled in electoral politics first as a two term member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council from 2008 to 2014 and later as a Legislator and State Education Minister in the Legislative Assembly from 2014 to 2019.

When the BJP emerged as the single largest party in the 2014 state assembly elections, Tawde’s name also did rounds as the prospective Chief Minister face apart from that of the then party’s Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Devendra Fadnavis and senior leader Eknath Khadse.

Tawde's political career has not been without controversies. As the state’s education minister, Tawde was subject to close scrutiny after reports of his Bachelor of Engineering in Electronics being unrecognised. The BJP leader did not deny the same.

After being denied the party ticket for the 2019 state assembly polls, Tawde was moved to Delhi as the BJP’s General Secretary. Subsequently, he has played instrumental role in state elections of Rajasthan, Haryana and as recently as the Municipal Corporation polls of the Chandigarh Union Territory. As of now, Tawde is the Co-Incharge of the BJP’s Bihar Unit.

Devendra Fadnavis

The saffron party’s most powerful leader in Maharashtra, Fadnavis comes from a Deshastha Brahmin family with roots in the Vidarbha region. His father- Gangadhar Fadnavis- who died early, was a member of the state’s Legislative Council from the BJP.

An RSS swayamsevak since his childhood, Devendra Fadnavis like many other senior BJP leaders, started his political journey with the ABVP from his undergraduate college days. He then joined the BJP and was elected as a corporator in the Nagpur Municipal Corporation at the age of 22 and became the youngest Mayor of the city in 1997.

Apart from subsequently serving as the Maharashtra BJP President in 2013 and becoming the party’s first Chief Minister in 2014, Fadnavis has played a crucial role in expanding the saffron party’s network across the state and hoisting the saffron flag atop several civic bodies across the state.

After facing a brief setback between 2019 to 2022 when Uddhav Thackeray led Shiv Sena parted ways post state assembly polls, Fadnavis and inter alia the BJP returned to the ruling benches as the Deputy Chief Minister after Eknath Shinde wrested control of the Sena and the Ajit Pawar-led NCP joined NDA ranks. 

The Maharashtra BJP leader had recently requested the party’s apex leadership to relieve him from the state government and allow him to re-build the party network across the state. The context for such a request being decline in BJP’s Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra from 23 in 2019 to 9 in the recently held general elections.

Considering that Fadnavis has also in the past served as the in-charge of state assembly polls in Bihar (2020) and Goa (2022) and since he is also the Central Election Committee member, the leader stands a good chance of becoming the party’s national chief.

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