Sunday, March 19, 2023
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Why ‘family elder’ Modi, and not aggressive Amit Shah, is govt’s face in Covid-19 fight

Covid-19 pandemic is a crisis in which the government must reach out and bring everyone together. Amit Shah's combative image might not work.

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Amid the entire Covid-19 pandemonium and the Narendra Modi government’s frenzied efforts to tackle this newfound enemy, Home Minister Amit Shah has been jarringly missing in action.

Between Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, the roles have appeared to be more or less etched out since May 2019. Modi will be the persuader and Shah will be the implementer. But it’s during coronavirus pandemic where implementation was going to matter the most. Amit Shah should have been visibly tracking and directing the dashboard of coronavirus information, which is coming up on an hourly basis.

However, in perhaps the biggest crisis that the Modi government is facing, given the global pandemic’s unpredictable scale, Shah seems to have receded into the shadows.

It seems that Modi-Shah’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has its action plan clear — the PM with his ‘family elder’ image will be the face of the fight against this crisis and the one reaching out to people, while Shah with his hardline, tough and aggressive projection will remain in the background, even though his ministry has a crucial role to play.

This is a grim crisis that requires the government to rally everyone together by reaching out and establishing a personal connect, and clearly Shah’s more combative image might not work. This, to put it straight, is just not a role Amit Shah can seamlessly fit into.

Also Read: Govt health experts recommend lockdown extension as migrant exodus ‘undermines’ containment

Modi’s care over Shah’s aggression

Shah is not used to being silent. Not as the home minister of Gujarat, not as the firebrand BJP president and certainly not as the country’s home minister.

In fact, over the last 10 months or so, Shah had emerged as the face of this government, at par with Modi on that front. In this Covid-19 fight, however, it has been Modi all the way.

It was Modi who decided to address the nation on 19 March to talk about the gravity of the issue and urge people to follow a ‘janata curfew’ on 22 March. Then again, it was the PM who addressed the nation to break the difficult news of a 21-day lockdown, and explain to people why this was needed.

Then again, Modi addressed his constituents in Varanasi via video-conference, but the message, of course, was meant to be amplified for the entire country. Playing his part as the ’empathetic but firm’ family elder, Modi then devoted his entire ‘Mann ki Baat’ episode on 29 March to the crisis, apologising to people for the inconvenience. The PM has also been tweeting regularly and interacting with nurses and students to boost their morale.

Forget Modi, even minister of state for home affairs, G Kishan Reddy is doing more from the front by holding regular video conferences and Facebook lives to reach out to the Telugu audience.

Shah, however, has been completely in the backdrop — even though the home ministry, besides health, is the nodal agency and crucial implementer. He hasn’t addressed one press conference, or made any meaningful statements. Home ministry officials say he has been holding regular review meetings and interacting with state chief ministers but again there is no sign of him leading the charge from the front.

Amit Shah’s very obvious silence has led many, including the opposition and several on social media, to raise questions.

Also Read: These are the steps India has taken to contain economic fallout of Covid-19

Amit Shah, making noise through silence

Amit Shah’s role in this crisis is a sharp contrast from the one he has played so far during this tenure of the Narendra Modi government.

Since Modi 2.0 took oath in May 2019 and Amit Shah took charge of the very critical home ministry, the former BJP president has been at the forefront of a slew of high-profile decisions and processes — from diluting Article 370 in Kashmir, pushing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, amending the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act to making the Centre more powerful and heading over seven ministerial groups.

Of course, these fall directly in the domain of his portfolio. But given the criticality of the home ministry in the Covid-19 situation, and the fact that it was ultimately Shah’s ministry that issued the order for lockdown by invoking the Disaster Management Act 2005 to bring states under the Centre’s control, the home minister’s silence does generate noise.

Kashmir, CAA, NRC, UAPA and others required this tough, aggressive exterior; the  ‘do what you want to but we will have our way’ person leading from the front. The coronavirus pandemic, however, is a humanitarian crisis — one that needs a firm yet gentle approach by a leader who the masses can connect with.

Modi, as the popular PM with his smooth talk, carefully orchestrated image and skilful acting abilities can easily slip into the role. Amit Shah, the eternal aggressor with the ability to unapologetically bulldoze his way through, may not be the best suited to be projected as a key person in this crisis. Not yet, anyway. Not till this government reaches a point where it needs to read out its diktat and wield its iron hand.

Views are personal. 

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    • Exactly!! It’s like the absurd disclaimers saying that the publishers do not necessarily share the views of the author of articles!! They issue such stupid disclaimers as if editors at these newspapers are blind, impotent or dead!!

  1. I it your mind’s breed, BJP is the national party and have full mejority in this democracy country.

  2. It is best to keep Shah in background his aggresive approach in CAA led to unwanted communal holocaust. Though all in BJP have a communal mindset Shah should have administered it atleast better. He should realise he is administering whole India now and India is not a small state like J & K. Bulldozing may work for smaller single state but not whole country. In CAA and NRC implementation he showed poor insight and administration. In COVID where there is a huge humanitarian angle he would have completely messed everything with his autocratic approach. It is best to sideline him.

    • @Rajiv Pande – “Though all in BJP have a communal mindset..”
      For the SICK, biased & stupid, the poisonous congress which created Pakistan, kept people who created Pakistan in India, led the largest number of communal riots is “secular”!!

      Secularism has become a joke especially when led by anti national, Mulla vote parties like congress!! For them, any criticism of the bad & evil in Islam/Muslims is “Islamophobic”, as If Islam was a peaceful political ideology which descended from heaven!!

  3. BJP is more danger then Corona .Amit Shah is expect to covert corona into Hindu/Muslim.

    • @Noor Ahmed laskar: Ha!! Ha!! We have seen Islam/Muslims in Kashmir, Pakistan, Bangladesh where tens of millions of Hindus & other minorities were killed in the name of an EVIL ideology!!

      BJP is nowhere near of what you have been doing through out your inhuman history!!

      When will you & your blind & brainwashed community start seeing within yourselves and your ideology as recommended in your own scriptures??


  5. India can overcome all difficulties once the internal hatredness n jealousy is finishes.
    Unless the unity n love among the countrymen is established we will move ahead for further troubles.

  6. Prime Minister Modi was faced with Sophie’s Choice. If he did not order a lock down there would be tsunami deaths. In the lock down there would be calculable hardships, particularly for the poor. But if he did not order a lock down, the poor would suffer the most with scant access to medical facilities. With the lock down, the economy would take a hit and lead to massive unemployment. But if he didn’t order it, the spread of COVID-19 would mean the economy would be hit anyway with labour getting the disease.
    PM Modi has always shown awareness of the poor and underprivileged, even if it is for the vote bank. In this decision, he has chosen to ignore vote bank politics. The poor who will suffer will not love him. The middle class and wealthy will not love him for causing inconvenience. But, he has squarely faced Sophie’s Choice. And we have to bite the bullet. INDIAN EXPRESS

  7. Part of what the writer says is correct – Modi is the face of the Government in handling this monumental crisis something which is a never before situation (even fundamentally different from a war) for any Government since Independence. Hence it’s far better to have one face of the Union Government. When the situation unfolds, others may have a role to play. Amit Shah’s role involves successfully coordinating with the top personnel of the state governments.

    • Please do not belittle Mr.Shah……Cutting jokes on strategic decisions cannot help anybody..

  8. Shah is following Physical Distancing and moreover he can only take care of election, panna pramukh, karya Kartha for BJP or handle all issues targeting particular community. If Amit Shah is good in strategy, to win elections with micro level planning, where his strategy now to safeguarding migrants.

  9. When both of them handle this problem deftly and the world leaders praise them, will you care to publish encomiums?

  10. ‘Modi, as the popular PM with his smooth talk, carefully orchestrated image and and “skilful acting abilities” can easily slip into the role’

    What skillful acting abilities……… Always an agenda, always degrade Modi.. You people are despcicable,disgrace

    • It is not always skilful acting, sometimes it is shameless acting !

      He acted in front of Facebook’s CEO about his humble chai wallah origin, and even sobbed ! It was embarassing.

  11. Campaign in poetry, govern in prose. Once an election is won, governance should mean the welfare of the people. In an emergency like this pandemic, even more so, going up to the extent of saving lives. How leaders deliver and perform in this crisis will etch the trajectory of their future greatness.

  12. The more I come to The Print everyday, the more I realise my mistake. Other than Shekar Guta and may be very few others, The Print is full of gas.

  13. If he speaks, it is a problem. If he stays silent, it is still a problem.!!! U can’t torture a person like this.

  14. Shah must be planning to overcome about economy crisis coming in future… They know there duties towards nation…

  15. This is just a clickbait, Ruhi Tewari has no clue where Amit Shah is or BJP’s strategy. For a moment I thought she had some reasonable hypothesis.

  16. The attack in Afghanistan on a Sikh gurudwara by Kerala based jihadi who had to go abroad to attack Sikhs and Hindus shows the effectiveness of the MODI REGIME AND HOME MINISTRY RUN EFFICIENTLY BY AMIT SHAH. The attack on Hindus AND Sikhs was supported by demonstration against CAA and non existent NRC by fundamentalist and rent seeking journalist and social activist.

    • @SHAILESH: Well said!! The EVIL in the evil ideology & community must have their balls clipped like in China!!

  17. Print is the wonder of21st century…
    This is a real mix of special brains of the country which exels in churning out articles with nothing to convey or write about but still runs thousands of words…
    Just amazing

  18. Where is Amit Shah? I haven’t seen his photo or any statement by him ever since COVID started.

    • What problem you have Sanjiv Bhatia. Modiji, as PM, is head of the central ministry. In the emergency as such PM is fighting in the front. Other ministers supporting him. Why you people find politics in this?

    • Getting clicked or issuing statement is important ? Statements anyways are being issued by Rahul Gandhi….but what purpose is he solving….creating a divide. I believe working and showing the results is as important for the government as it is for all it’s citizens.

      • @Gaurav Gandhi: Rahul Khan Vinci of whatever those congress Gandhi names are.. They look more like Pakistan/China paid trolls & traitors!!

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