BJP National President Amit Shah | Swapan Mahapatra/PTI
BJP National President Amit Shah | Swapan Mahapatra/PTI
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Amit Shah wants every last vote and doesn’t care if his comments on Sabarimala, Ayodhya or NRC are too brazen.

BJP national president Amit Shah’s brazenly defiant comments on the Supreme Court’s Sabarimala order should not surprise anyone. This is trademark Amit Shah – confrontational, unflinchingly political and with a single-point agenda of electoral gains.

His Sabarimala comments are similar to his equally unabashed high-pitched stand on Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC). His shrewd tactic of political defiance of Supreme Court rulings creates the ground for potentially incendiary remarks in the run-up to state polls on Ayodhya’s Ram Mandir issue, yet another matter being heard by the apex court. A new Supreme Court bench will decide the schedule of Ayodhya hearings in January, right after the state elections.

Over the weekend, Amit Shah in Kannur pledged “rock-solid support” to those protesting against the Supreme Court order allowing women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple, and said governments and courts should “give orders that can be implemented”. The court, he said, should not give orders that “destroy people’s traditions”. His remarks received much flak, and many said it amounted to contempt of court.


Also read: BJP has two strategies for NRC: Moderation from ministers, belligerence from party


This, however, is hardly the first time Amit Shah has decided to breach the court’s domain with crafty electoral calculations in mind. The updating of NRC in Assam – to identify those who migrated illegally from Bangladesh after March 1971 – has been an entirely Supreme Court-monitored exercise, with the court constantly cautioning authorities to not jump the gun. In August this year, after the final NRC draft was out, the court severely reprimanded NRC state coordinator Prateek Hajela and registrar general Sailesh for talking to the media about how authorities would deal with the claims and objections filed by those left out.

“What is your authority to make such statements? What impelled you to go to the press like this?” the SC had asked.

The court’s ire, perhaps, stemmed from the fact that the NRC, being a socially and politically delicate exercise, has to be dealt with using maximum caution. But nothing stops Amit Shah from saying what he wants to, and what he believes will help mobilise his party’s Hindu majoritarian vote bank. In rallies across the country, Shah has consistently said that the BJP government would identify all “ghuspaithiye (infiltrators)” and throw them out of the country.

“I have come here to make a promise to the people of Madhya Pradesh. If you bring the BJP back to power in the 2018 state and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP government will identify and expel each infiltrator from the country,” he said in Madhya Pradesh recently. Earlier, Shah had referred to illegal Bangladeshi immigrants as “termites” and in Rajasthan last month had said his party’s government would strike off the “termites” from the voters’ list.


Also read: Modi-Shah-Bhagwat play good cop-bad cop to win 2019 elections


These are just some of the several blatant instances of Shah talking about NRC beyond the current mandate. The court has been amply clear – the exercise has to be taken forward, step by step. What would happen to those who eventually fail to be identified as Indian citizens is something neither the court nor the government has discussed yet, given the diplomatic and humanitarian aspects involved.

While the NRC officials were not spared the court’s wrath for relatively innocuous statements on the claims and objections process, Amit Shah seems to get away with his rabble-rousing. After all, he holds no position in the government – a clever, dichotomous tactic by the BJP to put forth a politically evocative party stand as well as a measured one from the government.

Amit Shah’s Sabarimala remarks, therefore, are part of the same strategy – a cautious, mature Narendra Modi-led government, coupled with a brazen, recalcitrant Shah-led party.

The belligerence on Sabarimala ruling also sets the stage for what one can expect from Amit Shah on the Ram Mandir issue in Ayodhya. Despite the matter being sub-judice, and no matter what the court says, the unstoppable Shah will make sure he raises the pitch to a note so shrill that the message of BJP’s commitment to Hindutva is drilled into his party’s target voter. The forthcoming assembly polls in five states will be a laboratory for the BJP chief’s experiments on all contentious issues before he builds on them for the 2019 elections.


Also read: Sabarimala issue- Bracing for street attacks on women or is SC order unworkable?


Effectively, this is what it means: For Amit Shah, the courts don’t quite matter. He exists in a parallel universe, built on a belligerent and indiscriminate electorally-oriented worldview. The Supreme Court can say what it wishes to – on NRC, Sabarimala, and Ayodhya – but Amit Shah will have a parallel ruling, one with the blinkered but focused agenda of getting the BJP that one extra vote.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. A “microphone” is the greatest invention in the eyes of some people. Amit Shah is enjoying his time in the sun. Post-2019 I see Mr Shah tendering his resignation from the post of BJP President. But before he goes, and even before that, he should be asked to give the COMPLETE BLUEPRINT he has in mind to tackle the NRC problem. What will be done with those who don’t figure on the list? Will they be despatched in thousands and lacks across the border? What if Bangladesh government resists; will the people be “pushed” by a hail of bullets from behind? Before that, will they be weaned away from their current occupation by which they were sustaining themselves, and sent to refugee camps? Who will foot the bill for such refugee camps which may need to shelter thousands and lacks of people? And for how long? And what will happen at the end of that period? If businesses suffer by sudden withdrawal of these “outsiders” from employment, will the state or Central government make good the losses of those businesses? Are bona fide “Indians” available and READY to fill those vacancies at the wages that were on offer?

    These are a few questions which NRC enthusiasts shouldn’t leave unanswered. As I said, a microphone is an enchanting gadget to hold for some, but the sound waves that blow out of it cannot be bottled back. They become a jinn, sometimes difficult to control. Mr Shah has been merrily blowing away into that gadget, enjoying, as I said, his time in the sun!

  2. Very surprising that the NRC exercise has been taken so far, with four million people failing to prove Indian – or should we say Assamese – citizenship, without sufficient, or any, thought being given to what will happen to those who end up with the tag of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. Consternation within the state, bad blood with the government and people of Bangladesh, zero prospect of large scale deportation. 2. The apex court has seen how its judgment is being received on the ground in Sabarimala. That is a peanut compared to what will happen if it rules in an Either Or fashion on Ayodhya. Unsurprisingly, it has pushed back the hearing to January, with every prospect that the judgment will be rendered only after the general election is over.

  3. The bjp will never stop this toxic rant of Hinduism. Our constitution touts a secular state, but they’re just words now. The worst part is that as usual, the voters are left to choose between the lesser of two evils. Which will inevitably be the BJP. I am a Hindu. And my religion teaches me live and tolerance and a higher spiritual purpose of existence. But common sense has never been that common, has it?

  4. Once illegals are identified. The government can ensure that 1) they do not leave the geography of say a particular district or state (whichever is easier to monitor) 2) they do not produce more than one child per couple 3) they do not Marry outside this group of illegals. In a few generations they will be wiped out and will be nobody’s problem. I think this govt has the resolve to do this and they most likely will. The question one should be asking is, why was this problem allowed to become so big that it becomes alarm impossible to manage for demographic reason? Whose political interests were served by not doing NRC since 1984 as agreed? Who was thinking about that one extra vote… The author might wanna clarify!!

  5. >>> First, the BJP doesn’t need such small amounts. The party is so rich that it made an income of Rs 1,000 plus crores
    >>> in 2016-17 alone. By contrast, the Congress made a meagre Rs 225 crores in the same period.
    The author is trying so hard to convince readers how “poor” CONG is and that may be wants to indicate to the public to donate to CONG?

  6. The author wants BJP to follow certain rules which the opposition itself will not follow, possibly leading to BJP’s defeat. If every party follows the same rules, then it is alright to ask BJP to follow the same rules otherwise it’s just unfair competition.

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