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As he completes 3 years as BJP chief, Amit Shah prepares for future

His entry into Rajya Sabha is a precursor for the bigger role awaiting him if Modi wins 2019

Archis Mohan  |  New Delhi 

Amit Shah

was appointed the Bharatiya Janata Party president on 9 July 2014. The BJPs council stamped its approval on the decision of its parliamentary board a month later on August 9, 2014. Shah, therefore, officially completes three years as the party chief on Tuesday, when he is, incidentally, also on the cusp of taking the next big step in his eventful political career.

Shah is set to enter the from Gujarat, which many in the party think is the precursor to his taking up more onerous responsibilities in the union council of ministers once he delivers an encore for Prime Minister in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Shah was Modi’s home minister when the former was the chief minister.

Some within the see Shah’s entry into the Upper House as the party’s succession plan. By entering Rajya Sabha, Shah would acclimatise himself with the workings of Parliament. This preparation would help him as and when he succeeds Prime Minister Modi, possibly when the latter turns 75 in 2025.

But Shah is currently busy plotting the downfall of Congress leader Ahmed Patel and is likely to allow party leaders to celebrate his three years as party chief after accomplishing the objective.

Shah is one of three candidates that has fielded in He is certain to win, as is Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani. Shah, however, is focused on ensuring the victory of the BJP’s third candidate –  

Until recently, Rajput was the Congress chief whip in the assembly. He also counts Patel as his mentor. But is now the candidate after he defected to the party last month. Rajput's win would result in the defeat of Patel, the political adviser to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. And, Patel’s defeat would be considered a defeat for the Congress chief.

Patel's defeat might also be consistent with Shah and Modi’s objective of a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’, an India free of the Congress party. However, the energy that Shah has put into the plan suggests his motivation to be more than just political. Those who have known Shah closely, and helped him out in his hour of need, say the battle is personal. It is about wreaking revenge on those who Shah believes made him spend three months in jail in 2010.

Shah looks at the Congress party, particularly those closest to the Gandhi family and some in the media, to have launched a witch hunt against him that first led to his imprisonment for three months and later a court designated him ‘tadi paar’, when he wasn’t allowed to enter The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) case related to his alleged role as the home minister in the fake encounter killings of criminal Sohrabuddin Sheikh and others.

“When you shoot at the King you need to ensure that you finish him off. For if the King lives, he is sure to come after you,” a senior leader says of the Congress-led UPA’s efforts to “fix” Modi and Shah and how the two are now on a mission to sound the death knell of the Congress party.

Shah was just 15-years-old when the was founded in April 1980. Now, he is the party’s youngest, arguably its most successful and without a doubt its most ruthless president. 

In the last three years, Shah has scored several successes. The exact numbers have been disputed, but Shah has transformed from a cadre based to a mass based party. The claims itself to be the largest political party in the world with over 110 million members, which was accomplished during the second year of Shah’s tenure.

The has also expanded its footprint. It is no longer a party of the upper castes but can count on significant Dalit and OBC support base. It is also no longer the party of the middle classes. It has made ‘garib kalyan’, or welfare of the poor, a leitmotif of its ideology. 

The party has expanded beyond its traditional strongholds. It scored an unprecedented victory in Assam in 2016, and now has governments in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. It is preparing to put up a strong fight against the ruling Left Front in the Tripura assembly polls that are scheduled for early 2018. 

Shah led the party to unprecedented victories in Maharashtra and Haryana, both of which came when the party decided to sever its alliances with parties such as the and Janhit Congress. The emphatic Uttar Pradesh victory has been the latest feather in Shah’s cap. 

There have been blips on the way. Shah’s first defeat was in February 2015, when a resurgent Aam Aadmi Party meted out an embarrassing defeat to the in the Delhi assembly polls. By the end of the year in November, lost in at the hands of Lalu Prasad and BJP’s senior leaders, led by the likes of and Murli Manohar Joshi launched a frontal attack on Shah in the aftermath of the defeat. They soon found that they were irrelevant to the party’s rank and file. Last month, Shah saw to it that Chief Minister Kumar was with the again.

According to his website amitshah.co.in, the last three years have been spent setting up party offices in 80 per cent of the country’s districts. He also kept the party rank and file galvanized and rejigged party structures to reflect the support that has found among OBCs and Dalits.

In three years, Shah has also travelled extensively. According to one estimate, Shah has travelled 560,000 km across the country. He has visited 315 districts.

First Published: Tue, August 08 2017. 01:16 IST
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