A look at the the Jai-Viru pair of Indian politics, the all conquering duo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP party president Amit Shah.
The superb general election 2019 victory is rightly credited to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Winning a massive mandate in 2014 was a very big achievement. Many political analysts felt that it was a black swan moment of Indian politics viz. unlikely to repeat again. But 2014 was not only repeated but bettered by the BJP led by Modi. This is a much bigger victory than 2014 as it was a pro incumbent win. The one person who deserves huge credit after Modi is the BJP president Amit Shah.
Amit Shah has been the perfect ally for Narendra Modi. As Narendra Modi travelled across the country like an all-conquering warrior, the attack strategy was planned by and supply lines were maintained by Amit Shah. He prepared the ground for Modi to go and work his magic. Shah revitalised the organisation of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and made it the predominant party of India. No party president of the BJP has been as effective for the party in recent history.
Shah came into the national limelight when the UPA government tried to nail him for encounters of criminals like Sohrabuddin and Ishrat Jahan. Shah was exiled from Gujarat and he used this time to gather information about Uttar Pradesh. Modi never abandoned Shah even during this difficult time. Amit Shah was recognised in a positive way when he took the BJP to seventy-one out of eighty seats (NDA: seventy-three) in Uttar Pradesh. Eyebrows were raised when Modi assigned this responsibility to Shah. The seventy-one seats from UP played a big role in getting a simple majority of own for the BJP in 2014. Of course Shah planned the strategy for sweeping UP and used Narendra Modi’s charisma to bring it to reality.
It was but natural that Narendra Modi would choose his long time acolyte and trusted aide Amit Shah as the next party president of the BJP. The government and party were to become double engines for the BJP to establish a long period of dominance. While the government would establish ground for super growth of India over the next 10-15 years, the party was to use this impact of good governance to build a durable path for re-election for the BJP. The BJP won states all across the country including in the North East. The last five years have seen both the government and party complementing each other perfectly, culminating in the bigger mandate on 23rd of May 2019. Modi and Shah have played their roles perfectly to bring about this miracle.
Modi has become the most powerful Prime Minister in India, possibly after Indira Gandhi in 1971. Re-election with an ever bigger margin has robbed his detractors of any valid reason to target Modi. Modi now has the option to reach out and achieve the results he desires, the groundwork for which has been done in the first term. He has already indicated that he is looking to complete many of his dream projects by 2022.
The future course of Amit Shah is not known as of now. Conventional wisdom says that he should stay on as party president and guide the party in the coming assembly elections in important states, in next two-three years. These assembly elections are important as they would have a bearing on the BJP/NDA numbers in the Rajya Sabha. Majority in the Rajya Sabha would enable Narendra Modi to go through with the legislative changes desired by Modi.
But there is speculation that Amit Shah might be the new home minister or defence minister of the country. Shah would relish the challenges both these jobs bring. He has a strong personality and both these posts need a such a personality. Woe betide the urban naxals if Shah is the home minister or Pakistan if he becomes the defence minister.
But the real deal is the efforts taken by the Modi-Shah duo in the last six months, right after the BJP lost the three states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhatisgarh. Winning the general election seemed like a serious challenge then. But the way the Modi-Shah duo played their cards once the elections came closer, created this mega tsunamo for the BJP.
Modi-Shah took a step backwards to seal alliances in Bihar, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. BJP gave away 5 sitting seats in Bihar to the allies and pandered to Uddhav’s ego in Maharashtra. The Tamil Nadu alliance may not have worked this time, but given the swing nature of elections there, AIADMK might make a comeback in 2024. Modi and Shah kept their ego aside to seal winning alliances with one time ally turned detractors Nitish and Uddhav. Ramvilas Paswan was retained by giving him the respect due to him.
Amit Shah travelled 150,000 km to address 161 public rallies during the election, of which 84 were only in Bengal. Shah ensured that 161 call centres were setup across the country to reach majority of the 24.71 crore beneficiaries. Narendra Modi addressed 142 rallies across the country, majority of them in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The sheer amount of efforts put in by the Modi-Shah duo was not matched by any other politician. On the lighter side, Chandrababu Naidu logging flying miles dashing to one state capital after another was the only politician who came close.
There are many challenges ahead but one thing is sure, the Modi-Shah duo love challenges. There are many new milestones to be won for the BJP. Who knows if the BJP is targeting 350 seats of its own in 2024.
The Congress Twitter brigade uses the “Ranga-Billa” nicknames (after the infamous criminals) for Modi and Shah. Well not surprisingly as they have terrorized the Congress and it’s ecosystem yet again in 2019. But I look at Modi and Shah as the new Jai – Viru pair of Indian politics. Just that the villanous Gabbar Singh was replaced by the comedian Rahul Gandhi in this story.