India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi Image Credit: ANI

Going forward, two elections are going to set the political tone in India. The first — election for the President of India — the titular head of the republic and the second, the new chief of the politically dominant Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — India’s ruling party.

After its definitive success in the recent assembly elections in UP and elsewhere in India, the BJP and by extension Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, can call the shots on its nominee and ensure that their candidate makes it to the top of the Raisina hill, metonym for the seat of the Government of India, housing top government facilities, including Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India.

As far as the post of BJP president is concerned, any nominee or candidate has the huge shoes of Amit Shah, union home minister and uber election strategist of the BJP, to fill. JP Nadda took over from Shah in 2020 and his three year term will end soon. Nadda was elected unopposed.

Authoritative sources in the BJP told Gulf News that Nadda, who has had a controversy free term, deferring to the all powerful duo of Modi and Shah, wants to get back in to his home state politics in Himachal Pradesh.

Elections in Himachal Pradesh are due to be held by November this year and Nadda, even when he was union health minister, had set his eyes on his dream job as the Chief Minister of the hill state.

Dharmendra Pradhan, India's minister of education Image Credit: Gulf News

Next BJP president?

So who will be the next BJP president? The one thing political analysts can count on is the absolute secrecy of the Modi and Shah duo, who make up each other’s circle of trust. Leaks are frowned upon and the two delight in springing a political surprise.

Despite, the BJP’s structure as a cadre based party, such is the sway that Modi has as an all-dominating figure that anyone who has his nod will be embraced by the party.

Party leaders talk in hushed tones about the likely candidature of two young leaders Dharmendra Pradhan, 52, who is the minister of education and who hails from Odisha as a likely candidate. Pradhan recently won laurels for his handling of the Uttar Pradesh elections where he was the party’s poll in-charge.

Pradhan was the quiet yin to Yogi Adityanath’ yang and ensured that the tempestuous hard-to-control monk confined himself to the BJP script.

Pradhan also took on and defused the tricky caste balance in UP after the defection of Swami Prasad Maurya to the Samajwadi Party and managed the BJP’s outreach to send the non-Yadav other backward castes and Dalits the message that they would get a share of the power.

Huge political dividends

Pradhan is a quiet low key leader who was the earlier the minister of petroleum and natural gas and spearheaded the Ujwala scheme that paid huge political dividends of the Modi government.

Pradhan’s father Debendra Pradhan was a state minister in the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Pradhan started his political career as an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) — a right-wing all India student organisation — activist and has been brought up in the Sangh. Both Modi and Shah like the young leader and his efficient low key delivery.

Bhupendra Yadav
Bhupendra Yadav, India's minister of labour and employment and environment forest and climate change Image Credit: ANI

The other leader spoken about in the BJP as a successor to Nadda is Bhupendra Yadav, 52, a trusted Shah aide when it comes to managing elections. Yadav comes from Haryana and like Pradhan, is a member of the Rajya Sabha.

Yadav is the minister of labour and employment and environment forest and climate change. Yadav has carried out many political missions for Shah and is considered indispensable to him.

Like Pradhan, Yadav is low key. He recently co authored a book — The Rise of the BJP: The Making of the World's Largest Political Party with economist Ila Patnaik.

Watch this space for the latest lowdown on these all-important elections.