BJP national president, Amit Shah, will launch his party’s election campaign in Goa for the upcoming assembly election during his three-day visit to the state, starting August 19. The election in the coastal state is slated for March, 2017.
The second-most powerful man in India has a reputation for winning elections. Although his magic was rendered ineffective by the coming together of arch-rivals RJD, JD (U) and Congress in the Bihar polls, considered an axis of evil by a few political commentators, Shah has won more than he has lost, guiding BJP to victories in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir.
Ever since he delivered Uttar Pradesh to the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he has been occupying a very special place next to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and has transformed into a larger-than-life figure… His Goa campaign should add muscle to the party’s hope of retaining power.
Shah, who will turn 52 on October 22, knows he has the ears of his leader and never let’s an opportunity to stamp his authority pass by. The recent change in leadership in Gujarat is a classic case in point.
Combining political tenacity and cold-blooded strength of mind, Shah overrode a furious Anandiben’s flare-up and named his loyalist, Vijay Rupani, the state’s chief minister. It was a coup of sorts as Nitin Patel, till the last moment, was seen as Anandiben’s successor. By this single stroke of play, Shah has assumed total control of Gujarat, along with the legacy of Narendra Modi.
With the party mandate to make the decision on the CM, Shah exercised it to the best of his vision, keeping the 2017 election in mind. He was convinced he would get the MLAs to understand that Rupani was the best choice to lead into the future. Shah saw in him a “killer instinct” and he wanted to repeat his experiment of non-Jat CM in Haryana, non-Maratha in Maharashtra and non-tribal in Jharkhand.
Similarly, he wanted a non-Patel in Gujarat to push the point that the Modi-Shah duo wants to encourage “caste-neutral” leaders…although he faced criticism from the opposition, Shah was not worried. He realises that Congress cannot stand him at all.
As BJP president, Shah’s objective is to help the party gain power in states gearing up for elections. His decisions in the past have borne fruit, and the high command has faith in him. Even the selection of state ministers reflects caste and regional equilibrium and calculations for the assembly elections in 2017.
Politicians of Amit Shah’s kind are a necessity in Indian politics. The bio-chemistry graduate, who was also chairman of the Gujarat State Chess Association, is brilliant at making poll moves, we all know. Now, he also has to become an endearing leader, rather than one who only evokes fear and awe because of his tough personality. He will also have to become more accommodative if he wants to keep everyone happy in the party.
He calls himself a “chipku” and that explains why he is so determined to achieve a goal he sets himself. He is a hard bargainer, quite stingy in frittering away a political advantage…
If Shah delivers UP, considered a semi-final before the 2019 general elections, he will go into the history books as the most valuable poll strategist. Perhaps, Prashant Kishor, a strategist himself, can learn a trick or two from the master tactician.