AMIT SHAH Vs AHMED PA­TEL Shah De­nied Ic­ing on Cake to Cel­e­brate Anniv as Party Chief

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

Ir­re­spec­tive of whether they are dwi­jas (twice-born) or not, Hin­dus have two birth­days — the first ac­cord­ing to the tithi ( Hindu cal­en­dar), the sec­ond ac­cord­ing to the Gre­go­rian cal­en­dar. Amit Shah’s ten­ure as BJP pres­i­dent also has two an­niver­saries: July 9, when he took over from Rajnath Singh in 2014; and Au­gust 9, when BJP’s Na­tional Coun­cil rat­i­fied his el­e­va­tion the same year.

But his two-fold po­lit­i­cal as­cen­dance to BJP’s helm has not af­fected his uni­fo­cal ap­proach to man­ag­ing the party, and push­ing it to heights most col­leagues had doubts it would ever reach. Though ‘Op­er­a­tion De­feat Ahmed Pa­tel’ came un­stuck on late Tues­day night, Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi sig­nalled that the set­back was al­ready a thing of the past. As assem­bly polls in Delhi and Bi­har demon­strated, Modi and Shah are guided by the be­lief that to­mor­row is an­other day. Early on Wed­nes­day, Modi tweeted a con­grat­u­la­tory mes­sage, tag­ging Shah, a col­league and faith­ful un­der­study for three­and-a-half decades, on his com­ple­tion of three years at the party con­trols. Back in 2014 when names for the next BJP pres­i­dent were be­ing bandied about, few bet­ted on Shah. Many felt that af­ter a PM from Gu­jarat, it would not be po­lit­i­cally pru­dent for the party presi-


play the dual facet that had been vis­i­ble dur­ing the cam­paign when the cen­tral of­fice of­ten worked at cross pur­poses with the c a mp a i g n cen­tre based in Gand­hi­na­gar. Shah un­der­stood such a di­ver­gence would be dam­ag­ing. The mem­ber­ship drive Shah launched not just en­abled BJP to emerge as the largest po­lit­i­cal party but also con­veyed that it did not en­cour­age short­cuts to pow­er­ful po­si­tions.

Hav­ing risen in the party from the early 1980s, Shah was aware of the dis­ad­van­tages of the collegiate sys­tem of func­tion­ing that was the BJP’s char­ac­ter­is­tic. He was unapolo­getic about the need for a cer­tain amount of cen­tral­ism, and was pre­pared to face ac­cu­sa­tions, in the wake of the Bi­har de­ba­cle, of de­stroy­ing the BJP’s con­sen­sual style of pol­i­tics. But with more than a lit­tle help from RSS and Modi, he tided over the cri­sis, and in January 2016 was given a fresh ten­ure af­ter com­plet­ing the re­main­ing pe­riod of Rajnath Singh’s term.

To say that Amit Shah is po­lit­i­cally ruth­less is an un­der­state­ment. Re­lent­less pur­suit of power is his credo even if that means ide­ol­ogy tak­ing a back seat. The key to Shah’s suc­cess is his abil­ity to forge a re­la­tion­ship of mu­tual re­spect be­tween party and gov­ern­ment. Does Shah have a chink in his ar­mour? In plot­ting Pa­tel’s de­feat did Shah err by fail­ing to keep the ex­u­ber­ance out? Af­ter all, he had all but cooked Pa­tel’s goose were it not for the two rebel Congress MLAs who had dis­played their bal­lots.

Shah un­doubt­edly played a key role in giv­ing shape to Modi’s ‘Congress-Mukt Bharat’. His per­sonal elec­tion to the Ra­jya Sabha not­with­stand­ing, Shah has been de­nied the ic­ing on the cake to cel­e­brate his third an­niver­sary as party pres­i­dent. How quickly he learns from this failed mis­sion will de­ter mine if the surge for­ward can be sus­tained.


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