Nitin Gadkari, who was acting President of the BJP since December, was today unanimously elected to the top post in the presence of the party brass, making him the youngest leader ever to occupy the chair.
Gadkari, 52, was the only candidate to file nomination for the post.
Nominations in his favour were received from 13 state party units while one proposal came from BJP Parliamentary Party.
BJP General Secretary Thawar Chand Gehlot, who was in-charge of the organisational elections, handed over the election certificate to Gadkari.
Though the poll process was a mere charade - as Gadkari has been propped up by the RSS - the party went by its constitution in completing elections to 19 state units to meet the criteria of holding polls in half of the states.
Senior party leaders L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh and M Venkaiah Naidu, among others, were present.
"A big responsibility has been entrusted to me by the party. This chair has earlier been graced by leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Advani and it is my good fortune to occupy it," Gadkari said.
He asserted that he would strive to make the party stronger with price rise and internal security being the prime issues on which BJP will take on the government.
Reeling under two successive Lok Sabha poll defeats, BJP today appeared in a festive mood after a long time.
The BJP headquarters here wore a festive look with performances by folk bands from different states. Workers burst crackers on the occasion.
BJP sees a new ray of hope in its new president who has the reputation of being a hands-on, practical person.
Gadkari seemed to live up to this image when he insisted that he would work to strengthen team spirit and take decisions after discussions with all concerned. He would work towards building mutual trust and discipline, Gadkari said.
Describing Parliamentary Party Chairman L K Advani as his "margdarshak (guide)", Gadkari said he had the good fortune of having the guidance of Vajpayee and Advani, who were his role models.
Later, Advani expressed confidence that Gadkari will fulfil the expectations BJP has of him.
BJP had witnessed a lot of infighting among its second rung leaders after the party's second consecutive Lok Sabha poll defeat, forcing the RSS to intervene. Gadkari's main task is to end dissensions within the party.
Gadkari said BJP would work as a responsible "constructive and development-oriented" opposition.
Other aims include increasing party votebank by 10 per cent to defeat main political adversary Congress and restoring BJP as a "party with a difference" before the next polls.
BJP has already begun a nation-wide agitation against price rise to take on the Congress-led government. "Whether it is price rise or the dismal security situation, Congress and UPA's policies are responsible for it," Gadkari said.
BJP National Council will ratify his election next week.
Gadkari Formally Elected BJP President
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