Amit Shah: Not Just An Elec­tion Ma­chine

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

BJP pres­i­dent Amit Shah be­ing pre­sented a me­mento by Nir­malananda Swamiji at the Adichun­chana­giri Mutt in Mandya district near Ben­galuru on Sun­day — PTI On the face of it, BJP pres­i­dent in brass uten­sils. His fam­ily stayed time seen as a party of for­ward Amit Shah is less flam­boy­ant than in a one-room apart­ment when castes. Both in the 2014 Lok Sabha some of his il­lus­tri­ous pre­de­ces­they moved to Ahmed­abad. These and 2017 Assem­bly polls, Shah first sors, yet in terms of de­liv­ery of re­ex­pe­ri­ences im­bibed in him the stitched to­gether a strong in­tra-par­sults, he stands shoul­der-to-shoul­virtues of sim­plic­ity early in life, ty caste al­liance within BJP’s der with them. What sets Shah which he brought into his funcbroad po­lit­i­cal frame­work. He also apart from other politi­cians? tion­ing style as a ca­reer politi­cian. strength­ened the so-called rainbow Elec­toral as­tute­ness is cer­tainly He never uses char­tered flights. He coali­tion by strik­ing a pre-poll al­lithe most crit­i­cal de­ter­mi­nant in his prefers to travel short dis­tances by ance with smaller re­gional out­fits. pol­i­tics but more than that, com­road in­stead of he­li­copter. Dur­ing UP gave a his­toric man­date to BJP mit­ment to ide­ol­ogy (vichard­hara), his re­cent visit to Odisha, he travin 2014 Lok Sabha and 2017 as­sem­value of work­ers (karyakarta) and elled over 600 km by road. He pre­bly polls only be­cause of Shah’s as­sanc­tity of work­place (karyalaya) fers to stay in gov­ern­ment guest tute so­cial en­gi­neer­ing and PM are three of Shah’s key at­tributes houses in­stead of star ho­tels durModi’s pop­u­lar­ity. It also changed that make him stand out. ing out­sta­tion tours. In many the po­lit­i­cal nar­ra­tive in the state

WhenShah­wasveryy­oung,his ways, Shah em­bod­ies what from caste to gov­er­nance. par­ents en­gaged teach­ers to en­sure Chanakya had ad­vised cen­turies There is no doubt that PM Modi that he learnt In­dia’s his­tory. ago, “Politi­cian or ruler ad­dicted is In­dia’s most pop­u­lar leader Ma­hatma Gandhi’s po­lit­i­cal to vices can­not ac­com­plish tasks.” and na­tional fig­ure since though­tandBhag­watPu­ranaretwo In­de­pen­dence. Trans­lat­ing Modi’s big in­flu­ences that shaped his thinkper­sonal pop­u­lar­ity into a po­lit­i­cal ing early in life from his mother, who vic­tory across the coun­try with di­was her­self a Gandhian. His ideo­verse pain points was never easy. It log­i­cal moor­ings were re­in­forced re­quired a multi-pronged, well­when he joined the RSS and reg­u­lar­planned elec­toral strat­egy with an ly started vis­it­ing shakhas. In one im­ple­men­ta­tion roadmap planned such shakha in Naran­pura, to the last de­tail. Shah per­formed Ahmed­abad,heme­this­men­tor this role to per­fec­tion. Naren­dra Modi. He honed his orOne of the most un­der­rated at­trib­gan­i­sa­tional skills un­der utes of Shah as BJP pres­i­dent is his Kushab­hauThakre­al­sowith­whom abil­ity to seam­lessly move in tanhe worked for a long time. Him­self a dem with the gov­ern­ment’s over­all booth worker in ini­tial days, he took agenda. Mil­lions of vot­ers across up the chal­leng­ing task of reg­is­terIn­dia do not dis­tin­guish be­tween ing all BJP work­ers man­u­ally when BJP the party and its gov­ern­ment Naren­dra Modi was the or­gan­isaat the Cen­tre. Manag­ing vot­ers’ ex­tion sec­re­tary of Gu­jarat. Shah con­pec­ta­tions is a fine art that re­quires tin­ued his fo­cus on stream­lin­ing nim­ble-foot­ed­ness in keep­ing the and ex­pand­ing worker base after lines open with the gov­ern­ment tak­ing charge as BJP na­tional pre­si­while draft­ing an elec­toral vic­tory den­tasheem­barkedupo­nanam­bi­plot. Like­wise, Shah has put in a tious pro­ject of mak­ing BJP the strong co­or­di­na­tion sys­tem be­world’s largest party with more than tween the BJP and RSS to en­sure 11 mil­lion mem­bers. that all ef­forts are united and an

A strict veg­e­tar­ian, Shah is a non­chored with har­mony. smoker and a tee­to­taller. He reUn­like most of his con­tem­po­rarmem­bers both friends and ad­ver­ies, Shah doesn’t be­lieve in cre­at­ing saries, and knows most party a co­terie; rather, he uses ev­ery sin­work­ers by name. He in­sists that of­gle per­son in the or­gan­i­sa­tion ac­fice-bear­ers sit at the party’s 11 cord­ing to his or her abil­ity. Ashoka Road head­quar­ters. He There­fore, it’s not sur­pris­ing that him­self en­sures that he spends sev­eral peo­ple per­ceived to en­joy long hours in his of­fice when he is his close phys­i­cal prox­im­ity are acin Delhi. Prob­a­bly this is the rea­son tu­ally the most dis­em­pow­ered, why he has taken up the am­bi­tious while some who are never seen pro­ject of build­ing BJP of­fices in all around of­ten call the shots on im640 dis­tricts of In­dia. por­tant mat­ters.

Re­cently, dur­ing a visit to Ro­htak, Shah has re­mark­able ad­min­is­traHaryana, while speak­ing to vis­ta­tive and gov­er­nance ex­per­tise — a raks (full-time work­ers), Shah qual­ity that peo­ple out­side Gu­jarat stunned ev­ery­one when he said, “I do not know much about. As a min­don’t want you to work if you think is­ter in Gu­jarat for close to a decade you are do­ing this to win elec­tions he han­dled im­por­tant port­fo­lios or make some­one CM or PM. like home, pan­chay­ati raj, pro­hibiIn­stead, you should do this to make tion, trans­port, etc. His min­is­te­rial In­dia Vishva Guru (world leader).” ten­ure is re­mem­bered for a rich legShah’s com­mit­ment to na­tional acy of key ini­tia­tives such as fix­ing hon­our is be­yond pol­i­tics. He per­ac­count­abil­ity of lower bu­reau­cra­son­ally en­gaged him­self with the cy in pan­chay­ats, mod­ern foren­sic Jawa­har­lal Nehru Uni­ver­sity con­lab­o­ra­to­ries, strength­en­ing coastal tro­versy after Congress vice pre­sipolic­ing, etc. As party pres­i­dent he dent Rahul Gandhi vis­ited JNU re­port­edly gives crit­i­cal in­puts to cam­pus in sup­port of those who Union min­is­ters in his rou­tine in­shouted anti-In­dia slo­gans. ter­ac­tions with them. Now, as Ra­jya

Shah was born in a pros­per­ous Sabha mem­ber, it is only nat­u­ral fam­ily. His great-grand­fa­ther was that he makes im­por­tant con­tributhe na­garseth of a small princely tions in pol­icy-mak­ing. state of Mansa. Even as he grew up The story of the 53-year old modin the fam­ily haveli, his par­ents ern-day Chanakya is still un­fold­made sure that he does not get ac­ing. The coun­try will see many cus­tomed to the com­forts of a lav­more of his un­seen as­pects than ish up­bring­ing. For in­stance, his just an elec­tion ma­chine in the sis­ters used to go to school by a com­ing months and years. bag­ghi (horse car­riage) but he walked to school. Like­wise, while his sis­ters were served food in sil­ver uten­sils, he was given food only

Shah is fond of read­ing po­lit­i­cal trea­tises. He first read Kau­tilya’s Arthashash­trawhen­hewas­nine years old. Shah con­sid­ers Chanakyan­iti as the most sa­cred po­lit­i­cal man­ual. For in­stance, on the is­sue of se­crecy, Chanakya says, “The king shall singly de­lib­er­ate over se­cret mat­ters; for min­is­ters have their own min­is­ters, and these lat­ter some of their own; this kind of suc­ces­sive line of min­is­ters tends to the dis­clo­sure of coun­sels.” Shah of­ten says “suc­cess of a pro­ject de­pends on its se­crecy”. Re­cent de­ci­sions like the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date and the chief min­is­ter of Ut­tar Pradesh mirror this prin­ci­ple.

Though Shah en­tered na­tional pol­i­tics in 2013, his or­gan­i­sa­tional train­ing and ex­ten­sive travel across In­dia helped him learn the finer points of Cow Belt pol­i­tics. In no time in UP Shah trans­formed the pro­file of BJP, which was for a long (The au­thor is a psephol­o­gist and di­rec­tor of Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Ini­tia­tive)

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