Amit Shah, anchor of Modi's brace in Lok Sabha polls, gets Cabinet berth but influence in party unlikely to lessen

In the first week of November 2010, Amit Shah was forced to make New Delhi as his second home. A two-judge bench had heard an urgent petition by the CBI on a weekend and directed him to leave his home state Gujarat by next morning.

Staying out of a room in Gujarat Bhawan in the national capital he displayed tremendous grit and patience, using his time to learn the contours of national polity, strength and weaknesses of organisational structures of all mainstream parties including that of his own, the BJP and more particularly of the Congress. In the next two years, the legal cases against him were over with a favourable verdict from the Supreme Court. Soon after he was back to where he belonged, his home state of Gujarat and then he shifted his attention to national politics.

 Amit Shah, anchor of Modis brace in Lok Sabha polls, gets Cabinet berth but influence in party unlikely to lessen

Union home minister Amit Shah. PTI

In the last six years, first as general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh (2013-14) and then as national president of the BJP since July 2014, under the overall leadership of Narendra Modi, he took the party to newer heights. His efforts resulted in the second consecutive full majority government at the Centre for the BJP. Moreover, the party is also ruling in 16 states along with its allies besides breaking new grounds in the east and in the North East.

In 2014, BJP ruled only six states and by last year it was ruling in 20 states, forcing the Congress to slide to such numbers that it couldn’t even be officially recognised as “opposition” party in the Lok Sabha for the second consecutive time and consequently may be deprived of the post of Leader of the Opposition.

Modi called him the hero of 2014 and 2019 victories. Shah had proved all sceptics wrong, who mocked him when he talked about sweeping the polls in Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 parliamentary elections and in the 2017 Assembly elections.

His idea of panna pramukh (page in-charge, an in-charge of each voter list page for a polling booth) ruined the electoral arithmetic of SP-BSP-RLD coalition in Uttar Pradesh. It breached Mamata Banerjee’s fortress by securing around 20 seats in West Bengal. He gave new energy and appetite to the party workers to fight and win all elections from panchayat to Parliament.

By inducting Shah in the Union Cabinet, Modi has yet again publicly displayed the kind of trust and confidence he has in him.

Though he took the oath of office after Rajnath Singh but make no mistake that he will be the de-facto number two in the government. In the last five years, the accepted popular perception around him was that he is the second most powerful person in the country. Since the declaration of results on 23 May, he had been constantly with the prime minister be it at the BJP headquarters or in Ahmedabad or in Varanasi. The process of formation of the new Council of Ministers as also the allocation of their portfolios was an exclusive affair between the prime minister and him. The portfolios of the newly sworn-in ministers are not in the public domain yet. No third person in this huge organisational structure apparently has a clue about the selection process.

Incidentally, the first confirmation of Shah’s induction in the Union Cabinet came from Jitu Vaghani, Gujarat state BJP chief. Vaghani gave that breaking news through a tweet on Thursday afternoon.

“One man one post” norm of his party, would require him to quit the party president’s post.

But the timing of it is entirely dependent on him, whether he would like to leave that post now or after the conclusion of three Assembly elections in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand that are due later this year.

Shah may handover the party's reins to JP Nadda, who was health minister in the first term of Modi government but was not administrated oath of ministerial office on Thursday) or to someone else. Whoever he or she may be it is unlikely that the Shah's clout in the party will diminish even by an ounce even if he doesn't head it. Shah is likely to remain the guiding force of the organisation.

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Updated Date: May 31, 2019 23:47:04 IST