In 1977, he was elected as an MLA in UP Assembly. In 1983, he became a State Secretary of UP BJP and 1984 he became a State President of BJP's Youth Wing (BJYM). In 1986, he became National General Secretary of BJYM and subsequently National President of BJYM in 1988.
He was elected MLC for UP Legislative Council in 1988 and became Education Minister in 1991. During his tenure as Education Minister in UP he established some landmarks by introducing the Anti Copying Act and Vedic Mathematics in the syllabus and correction of various portions of' history textbooks. He became MP Rajya Sabha in 1994 and also the Chief Whip of the BJP in Rajya Sabha. On 25th March 1997, he became State President of UP BJP. During this period apart from expanding and strengthening the organisation, he played a key role in saving the BJP led Government twice during the political crisis. On 22nd November 1999, he became Union Surface Transport Minister. During this period he got the opportunity to initiate the NHDP (National Highway Development Programme), a dream project of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. On 28th October 2000, he became Chief Minister of UP and was twice elected as MLA from Haidargarh constituency in Barabanki. In 2002, he became National General Secretary of BJP. On 24th May 2003, he became Union Minister of Agriculture and subsequently for Food Processing. During this period he initiated a few epoch making projects like Kisan Call Centre and Farm Income Insurance Scheme.
In July 2004, he was again appointed as National General Secretary of BJP. As a General Secretary he held the charge of two states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, and ensured BJP's victory in both the states, by his exemplary organisational ability. He became the BJP national President on 31st, December 2005. As BJP President he covered the entire length and breadth of the country. He also embarked on Bharat Suraksha Yatra which covered several States taking up the cause of increasing terrorist activities and threats to internal security. He laid emphasis on issues of public interest like spiralling prices of essential commodities, farmers' grievances and cynical minorityism practised by the UPA Government. He has also written a book on Unemployment its Reasons and Remedies, when he was National President BJYM. He became the BJP national President on 31st, December 2005 and remained till 19th December 2009.