Hometruths & Priorities For Amit Shah
A trusted lieutenant of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah makes his debut at the Centre being given the crucial Home Ministry, a portfolio he has handled as a minister of state in Gujarat under Modi.
Called as ‘Chanakya’ for his organisational abilities that was marked by series of successes in the elections as BJP president, Shah’s entry into the north block gets a profile commensurate with challenges like terrorism, Maoists violence and the problems in Kashmir.
Replacing another heavyweight Rajnath Singh in the ministry, the BJP president will have to address issues like scrapping the special status of Kashmir under article 370 of the constitution, an issue dear to the party and the Sangh parivar for long and a promise included in the manifesto during the recent elections.
Shah’s first responsibility will be to ensure that Pulwama like attacks on security forces or on civilians, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, do not take place for which he has to take steps to revitalize the security establishment.
The other major issue that will come up for review in the Home Ministry will be whether to continue with the muscular anti-terror policy being pursued in Kashmir and whether the government would give an opportunity for internal dialogue with various stakeholders in the troubled state.
Shah brings with him a vast experience in the political arena. He was party in-charge of Uttar Pradesh in 2014 and helped BJP and its allies win 73 out of 80 seats. In 2019 too, Shah managed BJP election campaign and also rigorously campaigned at the same time, which lead BJP winning 303 seats. BJP became the first party in India, since 1971, to return with full majority.
Shah in the past had managed election campaigns of BJP since 1989. With his excellent election management expertise, he managed the election campaign of BJP stalwart Lal Krishna Advani’s election from Ahmedabad constituency in 1989.
Indeed, as the captain of the winning team, Shah deserves credit for turning the party into an election-winning machine. BJP won Assembly elections in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand, Assam, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, and Arunachal Pradesh under his helm.
Under his leadership, BJP, earlier considered as North-India party, spread its footprints in north-eastern states, West Bengal, Odisha, and southern states.
Shah was born in Mumbai in 1964 and was brought up at his paternal village in Maansa, Gujarat till the age of 16.
Before joining BJP in 1984-58, Shah worked for Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of RSS for some time. There, Shah was noted for his organisational skills and was appointed the national treasurer of Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha and subsequently the state secretary and state vice-president of the party in Gujarat.
During these years, Shah came in contact with Narendra Modi-then a rising star in the BJP. He and Narendra Modi, who was then an organisational secretary of the party in Gujarat, helped BJP mobilise its workers, which bore fruitful results for the BJP in subsequent elections.
However, challenges grew for Shah in 2010 when he was jailed in Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case. Later, a special CBI court dismissed the case.