BJP MP Nityanand Rai, who was inducted in the Narendra Modi 3.0 government on Sunday, has emerged as the BJP’s Yadav face in Bihar over the years.

Rai, whom senior BJP leader Amit Shah calls his "jigree dost" (close friend), could even emerge as a leading contender for the chief minister’s chair in Bihar in the coming years, political pundits believe.

The BJP promoted him as a Yadav face in Bihar in a bid to counter RJD’s traditional Yadav vote base and had given him responsibility as state president of the party in 2016.

A popular Yadav face, who led the BJP in Bihar in the 2019 Lok Sabha poll—the party won all 17 seats it contested, is also seen as a hardliner in sync with the BJP’s ideology. Rai is already the lead face among the second-generation saffron leaders in Bihar.

Over the years, Rai grew in stature and neutralised the Congress in Bihar’s Vaishali region. He won the Hajipur assembly seats four consecutive times between 2000 and 2010.

Son of a farmer, Rai has been associated with the Sangh Parivar since the early 1980s, when he joined the ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) as a student activist. He followed RSS shakhas through his graduation.

Rai, who got elected as MP for the third time from Ujiarpur in 2024, served as a minister of state (home) in the second Prime Minister Narendra Modi cabinet from 2019-24.

Rai hails from north Bihar’s Vashali, a Yadav stronghold that in 2015 elected Lalu’s sons Tejashwi and Tej Pratap Yadav, from Raghopur and Mahua assembly seats, respectively.