Jagat Prakash Nadda was on Monday elected unopposed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president, taking over from Amit Shah after the latter’s five-and-a-half-year tenure, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the party will scale new heights under the 59-year-old Nadda’s leadership.

A senior BJP leader from Himachal Pradesh, Nadda was picked to lead the party months after it retained power in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He takes over the reins at a time when the BJP is facing opposition from political rivals over the new citizenship law. Political analysts said consolidating the party’s electoral strategy after recent setbacks in states will be a key task for him.

His election as the 11th president of the BJP was announced by Radha Mohan Singh, who is in charge of the organisational election process. Nadda will have a three-year tenure.

“The BJP may face more difficulty in the future and we must be ready… as per the needs and desires of the nation, moulding the workers and taking India ahead is our target,” Modi said shortly after Nadda’s appointment was announced at the BJP headquarters in the national capital.

The PM and the BJP parliamentary board congratulated the newly elected party president at a ceremony that was also attended by veterans LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi.

After his election, Nadda said: “I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi for showing faith in me.

Today, we are the world’s largest party that is in power in India. We have the highest number of MPs and MLAs in the country. We are not going to stop at this. There are some states left and we will make sure we reach to them as well.”

Nadda’s elevation was expected. He was appointment the BJP working president last June, after Shah joined the Modi government as the Union home minister.

Wishing Nadda success, Modi said he was sure that the party would scale new heights during his presidency. “When I handled the party organisation, he was looking after the Yuva Morcha. We used to travel together on a scooter,” the PM said. “His leadership will give us new energy and inspiration,” he added.

He also praised Shah for his tenure as the BJP president. “The BJP has expanded in a short time, fulfilling people’s aspirations and transforming itself with time,” Modi said.

Shah was earlier joined by senior party leaders, including Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari, and several functionaries from state units, in filing nominations in support of Nadda.

The process of electing the national president was undertaken after organisational polls were held in 21 states. The proposal for Nadda’s candidature was made by these 21 states and the parliamentary party. He takes over from Shah, who was appointed as full-term president on January 2016.

On Monday, Shah said: “Heartiest congratulations to JP Nadda on being elected the national president of BJP. I believe that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and JP Nadda, BJP will become stronger.”

Nadda was a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the students’ wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He joined electoral politics in the 1980s. He later worked alongside Modi in the 1990s.

During the first term of the Modi-led government, Nadda served as the Union health minister.

The Prime Minister also used the occasion to hit out at political rivals protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. He said the parties that were rejected by people were left with few weapons, and were spreading confusion and lies.

“Those rejected by the people have limited means but one of them is to spread falsehoods. They have a full ecosystem for that. BJP karyakartas have always drawn their strength from the people of India. We do not need to seek validation an ecosystem that will never accept us,” the PM said.

“…There are some people who dislike the very principles which guide us. That is why there are attempts to create problems. For them, the problem is that the people of India are with us. These are the same people rejected by the people of India.”

Referring to his party’s structure, Modi said the BJP is not a temporary party or political arrangement, and that it is inspired by its ideals.

Shah, too, launched an attack on the Opposition. He said unlike the BJP, other political parties in the country follow a dynastic policy.

“The BJP stands apart in India because it does not function on casteism or nepotism. If you look at other parties, every party is family-based and is promoting their own people. Only BJP promotes every worker based on sheer quality and love for motherland,” Shah said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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