Home Minister Amit Shah in Lok Sabha Monday. Photo: ANI/LSTV Grab
File image of Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Lok Sabha | Photo: ANI/LSTV Grab
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We are no longer in the Modi era. We are in the age of Amit Shah. And it’s not looking good for India.

The events at Jawaharlal Nehru University have been so egregious that even neutral people, those who usually don’t comment on politics or take a position against the Narendra Modi government, are speaking up. You could say Deepika Padukone was always a bad apple because she said nice things about Rahul Gandhi 10 years ago, but what explains Varun Dhawan?

We have all seen how the JNU attackers were escorted out by the Delhi Police, and how the police is filing FIRs against the victims and remains mum against the aggressors. It’s a bit like the Kathua rape and murder, where the moral case is too weak to be defended by spin-doctoring and fake news.

But the government won’t budge. No matter what happens, Amit Shah has decided it is bad politics to be seen admitting a mistake. Whether it is the fear-mongering he himself carried out over the link between the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens, whether it is the alienation of the Shiv Sena or handling student protests, Amit Shah won’t budge.

This movie has played many times before. A government that gets a second consecutive term in power is overcome with hubris and makes one mistake after another. Remember UPA-2?

At least UPA-2 showed it was worried about the backlash. The Modi-Shah government is looking worse, as if it seeks to wilfully spread anarchy.


Also read: Vajpayee-Advani to Modi-Shah: This was India’s decade of political power duos


King of all he surveys

And yet, sometimes, even Amit Shah has to budge.

An early sign of a renewed hubris was when Shah said on Hindi Diwas in September 2019 that Hindi should become India’s link language. He was merely reiterating the RSS point of view that Hindi could do the job of a link language better than English. But surely, a politician supposedly as astute as Amit Shah should have known about how that thought is anathema in south India? And that him saying so would be suicidal at a time when his party is trying to expand into the south?

Such political considerations no longer seem to matter for Amit Shah. He seems to think that with 303 seats in the Lok Sabha for the BJP, India is now a clean slate for him to write on. There’s no one left to utter so much as a whimper. Shah is the king of all he surveys. If not now, then when shall we build the Hindu Rashtra?

And yet the backlash was severe enough that Shah had to backtrack his statement and Modi had to go around speaking in various Indian languages from Houston to Chennai.

In another supposedly misunderstood point, Shah questioned multi-party democracy. That sounds like being rather blunt about the BJP’s desire to have a one-party rule.


Also read: BJP wants to hide an ‘ailing economy’, the 56-inch stick & Apple town massacre


How BJP loses

Meanwhile, we no longer hear of the BJP’s “well-oiled election machinery”. After the 2014 elections, Brand Modi was so strong that together with Amit Shah’s Chankayniti and celebrated booth management, the BJP was winning election after election. Jharkhand, Haryana, Maharashtra were all a cakewalk. We were told that the standard conventions of Indian politics — anti-incumbency, being nice to regional parties, having a CM face — did not apply to the BJP.

Come 2019 and the old conventions were back. Has the famed Chanakyaniti been lost to hubris?

A long view of Amit Shah’s performance in state elections tells us that it is a little over-rated. He lost Delhi and Bihar, he couldn’t win Karnataka in 2018 and nearly lost Gujarat in 2017. He lost he BJP bastion of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and no, he couldn’t change the Rajasthan dynamic of alternating between the BJP and the Congress. The dry run has continued with the interregnum of the Lok Sabha victory, for which some would credit Balakot more than Amit Shah. After the 303 seats in the Lok Sabha, we are back to seeing a middling performance of the BJP in state elections.

It was nothing but hubris that prevented the BJP from forming government in Maharashtra despite winning a majority for its pre-poll alliance.


Also read: India’s student protests have broken image of national consensus on Modi’s policies


Brand Modi in the age of Shah

This hubris has been enabled by a weak opposition and a pliant media. Together, they made sure the government narrative on the abrogation of Article 370 and the Supreme Court judgment on Ram Mandir are bought without much questioning.

Yet, on Kashmir, the government may still be riding a tiger it doesn’t know how to dismount. On CAA-NRC, the Modi-Shah government seems to think anything is fair in the egotistical campaign to win a small state assembly election in West Bengal. The hubris made the government think protests will fizzle out in a week. A month later, it is the government that keeps giving more reasons for the people to protest.

When Modi won the first time in 2014, he went about launching one scheme after another, one event after another. In 2019, Modi seems to have passed the baton to Amit Shah. Modi makes himself conspicuous by his absence in Parliament when Amit Shah is reading the riot act on the Hindutva agenda.

Yet Shah’s aggression is affecting brand Modi now. In Modi’s first term, he could divert attention with his event management and by launching welfare schemes. So, when people questioned Modi’s silence on lynching or an attack on students, he was able to just give them something else to chew on.

But now, Modi has no new lollipops to give, the economy is in the doldrums. It is the age of Shah, whose actions are costing Modi his balancing act even on the international stage. Shah’s poor handling of the CAA issue in Assam has meant that Modi has had to cancel two visits to Guwahati now: one for the summit with Japan’s Shinzo Abe and one to inaugurate Khelo India.

At some point, Modi will need to step in for his own sake, tell Amit Shah to take it easy. Hindu Rashtra, like Rome, needn’t be built in a day.

Views are personal.

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43 COMMENTS

  1. Hahaha…hilarious to see how amit shah n rss are hell bent on destroying india…they think they can make a greater india aka akhand bharat just like israel wants to make greater israel…gutter politics

  2. I don’t think so,it’s circumstances that is compelling and govt has to take action,both leaders are complimenting each other, and they will be back in power again,these demonstrations and sit in Are misguided ,it’s against Bangladeshi and others who keep comming to india and it’s bout future ,those demonstrating ,do they want Bangladeshi and Pakistani keep comming …..

  3. WHAT IMAGE THAT THE AUTHOR IS TALKING ABOUT IS QUITE ARCANE . WOULD OPERATION LOTUS TO ENTICE LEGISLATORS TO FORM ITS OWN IMMORAL ,MAYBE LEGAL, GOVERNMENTS IN GOA, ARUNACHAL, KARNATAKA AND MANIPUR HAVE ENHANCED IMAGE . WOULD THE COMMUNAL INNUENDO LACED ELECTION SPEECH THAT HE IDENTIFIES PROTESTERS BY THE CLOTHING THEY WEAR ENHANCE THE IMAGE ? WOULD PEDDLING LIES AND DISTORTIONS ABOUT NEHRU HAVE ENHANCED THE IMAGE ? WOULD DISTORTION OF HISTORICAL FACTS TO SUIT MAJORITARIAN NARRATIVE HAVE ENHANCED THE IMAGE? JNU, CAA AND ARTICLE 370 ARE A WORK IN PROGRESS THAT BEGAN IN A LIMITED WAY IN GUJARAT. DOES SOME ONE REMEMBER THE ROAR IN THE NAME OF JAMES MICHAEL LYNDGOH AND MOCKING THE ALLEGED FECUNDITY OF A RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY ?

  4. So,Mr.Vij agrees to build a Hindu Rashtra ,but not in hurry.I feel opposition has mis calculated the support for anti CAA and is totally dependent on Muslims and hard core supporters to agitate

  5. Yes NAMO should back down and accept that he will survive till 2050 and by that time he will make India a Hindu rashtra and call it officially Bharat.

  6. All said still but debatable till the cows come home the narrative ..
    PM can still change the course by being honest to chose the path to sustain economic development in terms of job opportunities for our youth in our country.

  7. Modi 1.0, for all its perceived faults was ethical in all respects, especially in domestic politics. But, after Amit Shah took the reins of power, the ethical standard of BJP’s politics is declining. Brashness is replacing circumspection. Expediency matters more than ethics in public life, as in Yadiyurappa coming to power in Karnataka. Little wonder that BJP is losing State after State, just as Rahul Gandhi lost State after State between 2014-18.

  8. Wrong doers of this country are now fearing for Amit Shah. The popularity of Prime Minister and Home Minister are increasing day by day. Thanks to the Opposition Parties.
    Only fools think otherwise and live in fools paradise. Too much is too bad.

  9. Amitsha, s Arrogancy and Delusional ideas has caused nation woes nothing but woes. He thinks he’s ” INDISPENSABLE “” Maybe day dreaming to be next PM by hook crook! If there are no citizens where’s a need the King?

  10. Amit shah is a huge threat to the Indian democracy. He should resign immediately if he has any credibility in him.

  11. Ekdum faltu Government hai… Do kaudi ki BJP Government hai na Mehengaai km kr pa rhe hain na jobs de pa rhi hai sirf faltu kaamon mein hi lage hain……. … Faltu me hi vote diya public ne inn logon ko

  12. ND Modi in his pre 2014 LS election campaign had asked for just साठ महीने comparing with साठ साल of the Congress rule. No doubt he resolved very sensitive cases like तीन तलाक, Art. 370 and also brought about solution to the Babri Masjid – Ram Mandir case. He brought demonetization and GST, many schemes, pensions, insurances etc. etc. but was totally unaware of the health of economy of the country. So now he needs to focus in that line in a war foot without wasting his another साठ महीने… and of course without making any more promises.

  13. ROFLOL…New project for liberals, drive a wedge between the two tallest figures and the best pals in the Indian politics.

    Desperate times call for desperate measures.

    Modi-Shah not going anywhere at least till 2034. They are self made people, who know about their roots and wings.

  14. M&S , remind me of Jai & Veeru , of the film Sholay .In the film the duo successfully vanquish the villains . That was a film , to do it in life is extraordinary . So whatever the critics might say , the duo can sing , yeh dosti hum nahin todenge , tera saath hum nahin chodenge !

  15. What ever journalists loyal to erstwhile dynasty may churn out, The duo of Modi and Shah is not leaving the political space for any “Pappu ” even after modi attains the retirement age set up to 75 years. The voters of India are and /will be satisfied with their work .He will be the President of India to guide then governments of shah s and Yogi s of late 20 s and early 30s. of this century.

    • You mean he’ll become ‘The Great Dictator?!’

      Even after promising sex, jobs and Netflix, the CAA got only 52 lakh missed calls! Even the supposedly 18 crore BJP members seemed to have abandoned them!!

    • A Bisht Government! No thank you.
      The rest of India has no intention of suffering the fate of Uttar Pradesh.

    • We have enough soft pills of religion,now we have to perform in this age of cut throat competition era otherwise perish

  16. Love One another. Let every human right to live on India.
    Religion is man made and personal. No one has seen god. Then why to fight for religion and power. Let Midi and Shah be human first and love every one equally. Otherwise they will have to reap their own sowing. He who takes sword will perish by the same sword.

  17. Hindu Rashtra, UNlike Rome, needn’t be built AT ALL. Shah should resign and read Keat’s “Ozymandias” and Faiz’s “hum dekhenge” to open his mind to the world beyond.

  18. Using goondaism and violence to stop students from registering for classes and pursuing their life and liberty is a heinous crime. If this is what the left and liberalism stand for, they deserve to be crushed with an iron hand, like terrorism.

    • @RJ Don’t you see this incident in JNU is just a smokescreen. The JNU attack was done to shift the spotlight from the core issue of CAA+NRC to that of Left vs Right wing. Because in a logical debate the govt. cannot defend CAA+NRC not being communal. However in JNU both the Left Parties and the Right are in the grey zone. This is just Shah managing the Headlines.

  19. It isn’t like Modi and Shah have different goals and aims. They play good cop and bad cop, but the agenda is the same. For Modi to tell Shah to slow down, he must want to slow down himself!

    All of this is an attempt to arrest the freefall of election defeats, and distract from the floundering economy. It’s a question of survival – how can they slow down?!

  20. This article is a bit too charitable to Modi. Would Modi be interested at all in telling Amit Shah to take it easy? It doesn’t look like it. Both of them seem to be on the same page as regards Hindutva agenda.

  21. 4. How hard Hindutva benefits India one does not understand. Perhaps a few oregano flakes to make the pizza more appetising for the faithful one can accept. Not a whole jar of red chillies in place of a wholesome meal. The constitutional changes of 5th August will not help anyone in any way. A Print column earlier today mentions that senior ruling party functionaries are expressing doubts over its wisdom. CAA read with NRC will simply not be accepted by many states that cover almost two thirds of the map. It will not drive away the Royal Bengal tigress from the Sundarbans. So it is tough to accept that the second term has started on an auspicious note. For the first time, the street is filling up with disaffected Indians. Yeh raaste hain pyaar ke, Chalna sambhal sambhal like. Many mandates have melted like candles in the past.

  22. 3. Andy Mukherjee’s column mentions the phrase sovereign ratings downgrade to Junk. That is how foreign investors are looking at the unfolding India story. The economy has been neglected from day one. The first Budget was a damp squib because the focus was on winning M / H / J. After that, courage could never be summoned for meaningful structural reform. Ek IBC se kaam nahin chalega. Problems inherited, like NPAs in the banking system or structural weaknesses in the discoms, were not sustainable addressed. Instead, placebos like UDAY and Indhra Dhanush. Fresh wounds were inflicted, like Demonetisation and GST. Recall the light hearted first Budget of the second term. Virtually each economist of note turfed out of the team. Difficult to feel sanguine that the economy is in safe hands.

  23. 2. At some stage, the government will have to be worried about India’s global standing. Think of one part of the world where the sun is shining over the Indian Empire. One has no reason to disbelieve or discount what appears uniformly, consistently in the global media. Getting progressively more critical in the second term. Of the many reasons why JNU should not have been done, expected global reaction ought to have been sufficient to veto the idea. It has taken India sixty years to build up its international stature. The period since 1991 was even more productive. Whatever the ruling party might claim about the troubles it inherited in 2014, a bad international odour was not one of them. UPA II could get all P 5 leaders to visit India in one calendar year. India’s place in the world cannot be enhanced by event / headline management. It rests on what is achieved domestically. So the trek to restore our image will be slow, painful, but it should start in right earnest now.

    • Why would “All press have one agenda to tarnish Modi “? AND IF IT HAS, THEN SOMETHING HAS GOT TO BE SEROUSLY WRONG WITH MODI!

    • Did the press make BJP offer Ajith Pawar the Deputy CM’s post even though they themselves called him corrupt?! Who made ‘Shahzada’ Jay Shah BCCI secretary?! Who offered sex to induce missed calls to get support for CAA?! Who beat up JNU students with Police support?!

      Modi tarnished his own image!!

  24. A lot of the politics has been built on the assumption that what the government does or fails to achieve doesn’t matter. There is a winning electoral formula / strategy that pulverises the Opposition. Awash with resources. When the numbers fall short, there are offers that cannot be refused. So Maharashtra must have been a terrible shock. Viewed objectively, there is no clear explanation for three hundred seats in the general election, either, hence the ill informed speculation that the EVMs are manipulated.

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