It is interesting to note how the second-rung leadership in the BJP is being nurtured, silently but methodically. Most of these leaders are from the grassroots level, fully committed to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Prominent among them is Nityanand Rai, currently the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs. A man on the move, Rai is often referred as Amit Shah’s loyal lieutenant and his righthand person. People close to Rai call him the blue-eyed boy of the Union Home Minister.
Born on January 1, 1966, Rai is a humble, down-to-earth and lowprofile politician. He was elected to Parliament in the 2014 and 2019 General Election from Ujiarpur as a candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Previously, he had continuously represented the Hajipur constituency in the Bihar Legislative Assembly, winning the state elections since 2000.
During the Lok Sabha election campaign in 2019 in Ujiarpur constituency in Bihar’s Samastipur district, the then BJP national president Amit Shah had promised Rai some important work in the future if he won the Lok Sabha seat and the NDA returned to power. Shah kept his word, making Rai a Minister of State in the Union Home Ministry. Essentially, Rai was rewarded for executing Shah’s plan at the ground level in Bihar. From just another BJP MLA until 2010, Rai became his deputy in the MHA.
His meteoric rise has stunned all. Rai, 56, emerged as the BJP’s Yadav face and at one point of time he was considered as one of the leading contenders for Chief Minister’s post in Bihar, where traditionally the saffron party has been associated with upper castes and Yadavs have supported Lalu Prasad’s RJD.
Rai took over the reins of the party in 2016 when it was passing through a critical phase due to factionalism and drubbing in the state Assembly polls in 2015. Thereafter the political situation started changing. It is widely known that due to the cooperation and better understanding between Rai and Shah, the party performed well in the last General Election and won all the 17 seats that it had contested in the state.
Son of a farmer, Rai has been associated with the Sangh Parivar since 1981, joining the ABVP that year as a student activist. He attended RSS shakhas while doing his graduation from RN College in Hajipur, and first caught the attention of BJP patriarch Kailashpati Mishra, who later groomed him. Eventually, Rai would end the Congress’s influence in the area, and repeatedly won the Hajipur Lok Sabha seat between 2000 and 2010. The wins particularly counted as Hajipur is a constituency surrounded by RJD bastions Raghopur (Rabri Devi’s three-time winning seat until 2010) and Mahua, Sonepur and Parsa (the last two constituencies represented by Lalu).
In 2014, Rai contested from Ujiarpur and again won, in an election that the BJP swept in the state, winning 31 of 40 seats. In 2016, Shah chose Rai to head the state BJP, the first time the party had chosen an OBC leader, especially a Yadav, after continuous terms at the top of upper-caste leaders like Radha Mohan Singh, CP Thakur and Mangal Pandey.
Having affirmed his position among leaders such as Sushil Kumar Modi, Prem Kumar, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Nand Kishore Yadav and Giriraj Singh in the Bihar BJP, Rai is now the lead face among the secondgeneration party leaders in the state, ready to take over from the older team. During the last Bihar Assembly election, the BJP appointed him as the head of the 70-member election steering committee for the polls. Rai was also the chairman-cum-convenor of the committee.
Apart from all the organisationrelated or socio-political works assigned to him, Rai is known as a workaholic in the North block. He has also been consistently vocal in Parliament debates, be these on Naxals, internal security issues, the NRC or the LAC.