Jagat Prakash Nadda, 54, who has his roots in the RSS and its affiliates, was Sunday inducted into the union cabinet led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Former environment, health and law minister from Himachal Pradesh, which has just four of the Lok Sabha’s 543 elected seats, Nadda has tried to carve his own space in national politics with his low profile and astute organisational skills.
He has been active on the national political scene since 2010 when he was picked by then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Nitin Gadkari to join his new team. He was made the party’s national general secretary.
Born Dec 2, 1960, Nadda did his graduation from Patna in Bihar and holds a post-graduate degree in political science and LL.B. from Himachal Pradesh University in Shimla.
Starting his political career as a student leader of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), 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.
In the parliamentary election, Nadda played an important role in his home state Himachal and helped the party win all the four seats even though the Congress government was in office.
His wife Mallika Nadda, who teaches history in the Himachal Pradesh University, also was an ABVP ac tivist, and its national general secretary from 1988 to 1999.
“The elevation of Nadda to the union cabinet now paves the way for his claim to be the next chief minister of Himachal Pradesh,” said a senior BJP leader, who did not wish to be identified.
The assembly elections are due in December 2017.
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.
He 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 health minister.
He lost the assembly elections in 2003, but again won in 2007 and was appointed the forest minister.
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 Modi, Nadda was among those who were mentioned as likely to be the BJP chief after Rajnath Singh was inducted into the central government as the home minister.