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Amit Shah will soon overshadow Modi to emerge as BJP govt’s main voice

Amit Shah will not become a threat to the popularity of Modi. But as PM, Modi has limits, the Home Minister does not.

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If the first term of the Narendra Modi government was all about the Prime Minister and his powerful persona, the first 100 days of Modi 2.0 have unambiguously been about Home Minister Amit Shah. And if this trend were to continue, Shah will smoothly overshadow Modi by the end of this government’s tenure. 

This is not to say Amit Shah will become a threat to the ever-popular Modi, or try and displace him in any way. Modi will continue to remain the party’s most loved face and in-control personality, who can rally voters behind him like no other. But Shah is very likely to emerge as the main voice of the government and the BJP, as well as the primary messenger. And may, in that sense, end up eclipsing Modi.

Also read: In Narendra Modi’s first 100 days, Amit Shah has become India’s most powerful man

Shah the messiah 

Amit Shah’s statement Saturday about Hindi and how it can unite India, which predictably stirred up a storm, was just one among the many statements the new home minister has made that have dominated headlines and ensured he conveys the primary message of this government. In this case, it was about pushing out the message of this government’s majoritarian emphasis, and as a side-effect, also deflect attention from the sorry state of affairs of the economy to an extent.

Then again, Shah kicked off ‘Seva Saptah (week of service)’ to mark Narendra Modi’s birthday week, where he also swept the floor of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi. Remember the very carefully crafted optics of Modi wielding a broom on several occasions in his first term? 

Look at the chain of events ever since this government won the Lok Sabha polls with a massive mandate and took charge in June this year. The first session of Parliament was like a movie directed to suit the BJP government to perfection, and its hero, Amit Shah.

What stood out (and how) was, of course, the move to scrap Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories. Shah brought in the bill in Parliament, single-handedly spearheaded it, made the necessary speeches and saw it through with an unexpected degree of smoothness. This came across as an out-and-out Shah operation, accomplishing the BJP’s decades-old agenda. He even made it a point to visit Jammu and Kashmir within a month of taking charge, ensuring the focus remained in the right direction.

The BJP government also managed to push contentious and so-far resisted bills like criminalising triple talaq, Right To Information (Amendment) Bill and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (Amendment), despite the challenge of inadequate numbers in the Rajya Sabha. Perhaps, this was Shah showing his ability to strategise, considering he is now part of government, which he never was in the first Modi term and when the government always failed the Rajya Sabha hurdle. It ended up giving the Home Minister a halo of being this government’s messiah, at least in terms of the ease of managing difficult operations and steering pet bills.

Also read: How Amit Shah, Ajit Doval managed to stun everyone on Article 370 despite telltale signs

A new Shah

The Amit Shah of 2019 is very different from the Amit Shah of 2014, or even 2018. That Shah was a powerful entity in the BJP, but had little overt role in the government. Today’s Shah is a deadly mix of a pivotal party man and an equally pivotal government driver. Consider the last 15 years there hasn’t been such a person. 

In the Congress-led UPA, no minister was as powerful exercising absolute influence in both party and government. The all-powerful person in the Congress party was Sonia Gandhi, who held no position in government (except as chairperson of the National Advisory Council, which had a dicey mandate). But Gandhi could not brazenly and overtly speak or act on behalf of the government. She wielded the invisible hand in most activist-decisions of the government. But Shah now has the legitimacy and unique opportunity.

In the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-L.K. Advani times, the latter may have been important in both the party and government, but there is little denying that Shah has surpassed him in ways more than one. He has established himself as the man who can make the BJP win even the toughest of elections and the Home Minister who has managed to pull off a move as gigantic as Jammu and Kashmir.

Also read: Amit Shah is the ‘prime’ minister in Modi cabinet & he hits where it hurts

A decisive Shah

Narendra Modi as Prime Minister has limitations. The PM is the PM, bound by at least some protocol and standards to follow. If you don’t believe this, look at Modi’s Twitter handles squeaky clean, reasonably measured and statesman-like. Shah, on the other hand, seems to have no such qualms. His statements can continue to be as egregious, terming ‘infiltrators’ as ‘termites’, promising to weed them out, and asking for updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) across the country

Also, Modi is a more cautious, restrained politician than Shah. He is less brazen and more concerned about building an image of being a statesman and world leader than much else. This gives Shah an open field to push his way through as the rabble-rouser with power and the necessary office, who can talk for the party and execute through the government.

Modi will remain the BJP’s face, and Shah will give him full support to be that but not without the latter soon emerging as this government’s most powerful, headline-dominating and decisive voice.

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  1. There are very few people in this world , who do not or cannot attribute their success to their better half . The better half thereby gets half the pie and/ or lot more . There is nothing novel in the arrangement that the ruling party today has . 2014 to 2019 was one and half with jaitley being the half .Now it is better , with the position reflecting what is the norm .

  2. It just means that BJP has a succession plan in place. This is good planning. Now we can expect the journalists will have something to write about, to fill up columns, on a bad news day.

  3. The tone and tenor of artical makes it look as if Shah is criminal and will create hurdles to people like writer. Actually it is this kind of pseudo intellectual who have kept this country to what it is now after 72 years of independence. They survive only by writing this kind of junk and call themselves reporter or Journalists.

  4. India already has TWO prime ministers.. PM (International) and PM (National). Things will continue the same way until PM (I) decides to settle abroad. As it is, he’s getting fast sucked into the illusion that he’s meant for a larger stage.

  5. Is this the game to make Amit Shah the future Prime Minister.

    As per Modi’s own gameplan, no MP’s will be nominated for Lok Sabha ro Rajya Sabha once they cross 75 years. Modi will be above 74.5 for next election putting him right on the border. Will he step down and make Amit Shah the PM?

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