Amit Shah@55: Modi's prodigy shines again in Haryana, faces test in Maha

Published : Nov 09, 2019 09:14 am | By: anjali chhabra

Amit Shah@55: Modi


Amit Shah, who turned 55 recently, virtually celebrated his birthday with BJP's electoral victories in Maharashtra and Haryana and impressed Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his prowess but the uphill task of coalition government formation in Maharashtra has sprung up as a new challenge for the master negotiator who head the party.

The BJP's one-man poll victory machine, Amitabh Anilchandra Shah, popularly known as Amit Shah, turned 55 on October 22, and within two days he delivered historic back-to-back performances for the party in Maharashtra and Haryana elections with the BJP emerging as the largest party. While the BJP's deal in Haryana was sealed quickly with the JJP, the deliberations with ally Shiv Sena have hit a wall and thrown up another challenge for Shah who alone holds the key to determine whether the two feuding allies would become future foes.

Master strategist Shah will have to employ his best negotiating skills to ensure that his party returns to power despite the bitterness with Shiv Sena whose rigidity over sharing the CM's post forced BJP leader and the outgoing Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to resign due to inadequate numbers in the Assembly.

Shah's indispensability for the BJP and more specifically for his mentor and guide Prime Minister Narendra Modi can be gauged from the fact that his personal intervention was needed for government formation in Haryana and would, perhaps, be needed again in Maharashtra in the near future.

Observers said Shah's 55th birthday took him a step closer to becoming Modi's preferred choice for sharing his responsibilities in governing the country. Some party workers even celebrated Shah's birthday with slogan that he has completed one more year of grooming under Modi for bigger responsibilities in future, including in the Prime Minister's Office. The most successful BJP president and the Union Home Minister owes a lot to his mentor Modi for the growth of his stature as he has been working as a team with the latter since his days a Gujarat Chief Minister.

Shah has become an inseparable part of the Modi Cabinet as he puts to good use his past experience in the Gujarat Council of Ministers in the Modi government. Under Shah's leadership as BJP chief, the party has became the world's largest political party with over 10 crore registered members.

The calculative strategy skill of Shah is partly linked to his scientific temperament, as he studied B.Sc in bio-chemistry after school, and his go-getter spirit is linked to skills he acquired as a stock broker in his early days as a young professional and the tricks of the business world that he learnt from his father's PVC pipe business.

From his early days in the 1980s as an activist of ABVP, Shah has come a long way – winning his first election as an MLA in 1997 in Gujarat. Under Modi's patronage and training, Shah seems to be blossoming into a potential future Prime Minister of the saffron brigade.

Shah's growth in the BJP hierarchy has been carefully scripted so that his career graph does not cross the path of Modi. Over the past five years, he has not only helped the party spread its influence in non-Hindi speaking belts of the country like the North-East and Karnataka. The BJP also managed to form governments in Maharashtra and Haryana for the first time ever under Shah's leadership. The return of a BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, after several decades, was also credited to him besides the 15-year rules of the party in Hindi heartland states like Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Jharkhand and Himachal Pradesh have also turned saffron under Shah's leadership.

Shah's style of team building and his financial discipline is due to his love for sports, especially cricket, and knowledge of banking and finance of small and medium business. During his early days in public life, Shah's stints as the chairman of Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank and later at the helm of as Gujarat State Financial Corporation and Gujarat Cricket Association have helped him evolve the successful formula of reaching out to party cadre to deliver the best results.

On the occasion of Shah's birthday, Modi showered lavish praise on his virtual deputy. “Home Minister Amit Shah is contributing significantly in empowering and securing India,” Modi said in a tweet.

"I wish a very happy birthday to my colleague in the Cabinet, Amit Shah, a hard-working, experienced, efficient organiser. Apart from playing a valuable role in the government, he is also contributing significantly in empowering and securing India. May god give him a long and healthy life," PM Modi tweeted in Hindi.

While Amit Shah would soon be in action again to help the BJP win the Jharkhand Assembly polls in November-December, the Modi confidant would always want to include West Bengal, Odisha and southern states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the list of states he has helped the party dominate in the past five years. These four states pose an insurmountable electoral challenge to Shah who would want to conquer these in coming years. As for 2024, team Modi-Shah seems on course to win BJP a third consecutive term at the Centre and, in the process, groom Amit Bhai further for taking on the baton from Modi whenever the RSS-BJP think tank deems it fit.

Shah will remain the perfect foil for Modi for many years to come. The projection of Shah's possible elevation to the PMO in the near future should not be seen as a Modi's largesse or as a case of nepotism. Those who see Shah's bright future as a reward for his loyalty and devotion towards Modi cannot deny the fact that Shah has earned his place in the organisation and the government through results and hard work. Shah has helped Modi's efforts to become a super brand in Indian politics and it is only in the interest of the BJP and the larger national benefit that Shah continues forward the legacy of Modi in the next decade or so.

Like a devoted foot-soldier of the BJP, Shah has shown little signs or ambitions of being Modi's successor but even Modi realises that a hunt across India for a suitable successor to him for occupying the PMO would end at Shah.

Shah's presence in Modi's team has taken a lot of pressure off the shoulders of the Prime Minister. Apart from complementing the PM in campaigning for the BJP in elections, Shah has become the face of muscular nationalism propounded and popularised by team Modi. The abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir and NRC drive against illegal Bangladeshis and immigrants are examples of Shah's hardline strategy to help Modi keep alive the patriotic fervour alive in the hearts of Indians between elections.

While Modi focuses more and more to spread India's influence at the global stage and grows as the brand ambassador of India in international forums, Shah has been tasked by the PM to keeping alive the spark of Indian pride in the heart of citizens. As PM goes beyond borders to make India influential, Shah seems to be working as a gel in India by binding people from different regions on issues that instantly strike a nationalist chord with people. Kashmir, NRC in Assam and its extension to other states and the fight against terror and lynching incidents are some areas where Shah has contributed immensely.

Shah's bright future is beyond doubt and he seems totally worthy of it. Yet, the Gujarat strongman would admit that his quick rise in the Union Cabinet has been due to unwavering faith shown in him by Modi. Also, the untimely deaths of former Cabinet ministers Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj in the last one year have, in some way, mad Modi's task of anointing Shah as his virtual successor and potential future PM easier. BJP leaders like Nitin Gadkiri, 62, and Rajnath Singh, 68, would do good to see Shah as a national and party asset and not nurture competing aspirations to be Modi's successors.

At 55, Shah carries the hope of young Indians who look upon him to rid the nation of a style of politics that had thrived over the decades by avoiding taking tough decisions. Shah, the most successful backroom operator of the BJP over the past five years has entered Lok Sabha seat from Gandhinagar and embarked upon his most crucial journey on the road of electoral politics in May 2019. His stint in the Union Cabinet and Lok Sabha would continue to test his skills as a high-profile administrator who is adept at weakening political rivals systematically. Going by what the stars are indicating, it is just a matter of time and Modi's blessing that destiny would lead Shah into 7 Lok Kalyan Marg – the official residence of Prime Minister of India in the heart of the nation's political capital. This surely is the wish of Modi and millions of BJP workers and Sangh cadre who want to see India grow stronger in coming years.


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