File photo of PM Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah | PTI
File photo of PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah | Photo: PTI
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Delhi’s power circles are swirling with a rumour these days. It is spreading faster on WhatsApp groups than the coronavirus is in India. The rumour is about Home Minister Amit Shah. To be precise, it is about some alleged differences that have cropped up between him and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In fact, liberal journalists, bureaucrats, scholars and activists insist on getting on Signal or WhatsApp calls to talk about this in whispers. All speculative gossip and conjecture, of course, because no one really knows what’s going on in this most secretive government. Not even BJP leaders.

But that hasn’t stopped Indian liberals from fantasising about a scenario where the intimidating duo will split. They say important files are not going to Amit Shah. He hasn’t spoken publicly since the coronavirus lockdown began, even though he is seen in ANI photographs and tweets regularly, whether it’s about Maharashtra rail accident, death of BSF soldiers, gas leak in Vizag, Handwara or Modi’s popularity ratings.

Such speculations about power duos are not new. It dogged the Congress-led UPA’s decade-long rule with rumours about Sonia Gandhi being miffed with then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Of course, it didn’t help that Rahul Gandhi said an ordinance that Singh had brought should be “torn up and thrown away”. During the NDA rule, all they talked about was the rivalry and differences between former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani. This rivalry, real, imagined or fed, birthed an entire crop of journalists in Delhi. 

But Narendra Modi and Amit Shah were supposed to be different — above petty power rivalries, in perfect sync and complementing each other. They are what Hindi speakers call ‘do jism, ek jaan’ or Tamil speakers say ‘iru udal oru uyir’ — two bodies one soul.


Also read: NRC to GST – How Modi & Amit Shah create Anxiety Raj and still win elections


Liberals have a dream

In the past five months, especially since the deadly Hindu-Muslim violence in Delhi earlier this year when National Security Adviser Ajit Doval was sent to the riot areas, there has been much salacious speculation among the liberals and progressives about a possible rift between Modi and Shah. These began after Amit Shah implemented several hot-button issues, prompting Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel to even say that the home minister was running the show in Delhi and there were differences between him and Modi.

Here are five reasons why liberals and progressive people find the talk of Modi-Shah differences tantalising, even without proof.

First, Narendra Modi will be considerably weakened without Amit Shah. The two embolden each other and play good cop-bad cop very well – one projects himself as a statesman-like, visionary leader; the other is the shrill Hindutva amplifier. In many ways, Shah is the facilitator of Modi’s Hindutva consolidation. Modi dials it down when he is not in an election campaign, but Shah is 24×7 Hindutva mobilisation.

Second, differences between them will mean the end of the formidable election machinery that Amit Shah directs and controls. He perfected and now presides over booth management and information dissemination very well. Many see Modi as a charismatic orator. If Modi has the message, Amit Shah controls the distribution pipelines for that message. If content is king, and distribution is god, as columnist Shivam Vij wrote, then Shah is that god. “The exclusive monopoly of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over all these means of distribution explains a lot about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s success.”


Also Read: Amit Shah’s aggression is diminishing PM Modi’s carefully cultivated image


Third, Modi has become too self-conscious about his international image and headlines. Amit Shah doesn’t care enough about his international image. He got both the domestic credit and global criticism for the Kashmir Article 370 move and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Someone who doesn’t care about their international image is more likely to pursue a strident Hindutva agenda. If Amit Shah goes, liberals hope it will tame the Hindutva project.

Fourth, with Modi and Shah at the helm in the BJP for the past six years, the second-rung leaders, such as Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and late Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, had to retreat and not indulge their ambitions. Because everybody assumes that Amit Shah is billed to follow Modi (after 2 or 2.5 terms). If that planned succession is in doubt, then a full-blown leadership drama will be mounted. Leaders wouldn’t have to stifle their ambitions in silence any longer, if Amit Shah isn’t the chosen man after Modi. That weakens the BJP, a prospect that the liberals can smile upon. Also, the tight ship that the two leaders run in the government will come undone. Ministers will form camps, leak information and go the UPA way.

Finally, liberals know they can’t defeat Modi with just their ‘idea of India’ anymore. No matter what they do, they are trapped in ivory towers that don’t count for much electorally. So, the only way they see Modi’s image getting tainted is if he is in a fight with his show-runner Shah. That would be enough catharsis.


Also read: You can’t cancel Modi, RSS: Why US-style identity politics won’t help Indian liberals’ fight


Echo chamber of the rumour mill

Conspiracy theories are always the default setting when there is no access to inside information. So, the liberal ecosystem is forced to talk among themselves, share and also validate each other’s conspiracy theories.

But this isn’t true just for the liberals. Such rumours are fed by a handful of the old establishment power privilegentsia. These are the same people who stoked speculation about Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s health and whispered to Time magazine’s Alex Perry, and about Manmohan Singh’s health.

So, until the next election campaign or the next joint appearance on the balcony of the BJP headquarters, liberals can form new governments in their minds.

Views are personal.

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25 Comments Share Your Views

25 COMMENTS

  1. The binding force between Modi and Shaw is their desh- bhakti which will never weaken. The people who do have desh – bhakti in their blood can never understand this. . As the tamil saying goes a donkey can’t smell camphor!

  2. Liberals are seriously retarded if they support a violent death cult that has contributed nothing to this world, and promotes inbreeding and terrorism. Screw Congress and Pakistan!

      • This is what the PM said on that day “Around that time, the weather had suddenly deteriorated. It had rained a lot. Do you remember? I wonder all these pundits that keep cursing me, do they not have brains? At 12, I am saying this for the first time; I am not sure how our officers would react to this. So, for a moment, I wondered, what should we do in such weather conditions? there are clouds; could we go or we couldn’t? Then, by and large, I received the expert opinion that we must change the date (of the airstrike mission). I said, ‘I have two things in mind: First, secrecy. So far, the mission has been a secret but if this secrecy turns lax, then we should abort the mission; we should not go.’ Second, I said, ‘I am not a person who knows all the details of this science. It’s raining. Maybe we could avoid detection by (enemy) radars.’ I said, ‘This is my raw wisdom. The cloud may offer us an advantage.’ But they were in a dilemma over what should be done. Ultimately, I said, ‘Okay, there’s cloud. Let’s go!”]

        The video clip on Twitter ends here. It is not clear whether the prime minister narrated how the conversation with the IAF officers proceeded thereafter. Presuming this was all that he shared about the dialogue, does it stand the scrutiny of science?”

        *PM not entirely wrong*

        The ‘experts’ who are saying that military radars are all-weather-proof are not entirely correct. Cloud, mist, rain and other forms of precipitation can affect the function and reliability of a radar. Where the prime minister is incorrect, the impact on Pakistani radar might not have been a safe enough option for the IAF to launch the attack if this alone was the consideration while deciding the time of the airstrikes.

        Britannica explains, “Because raindrops are more or less spherical (symmetrical) and aircraft are asymmetrical, the use of circular polarization can enhance the detection of aircraft in rain. With circular polarization, the electric field rotates at the radar frequency. Because of this, the electromagnetic energy reflected by the rain and the aircraft will be affected differently, which thereby makes it easier to distinguish between the two. (In fair weather most radars use linear polarization; i.e., the direction of the electric field is fixed.)”

        Britannica goes on to say, “Military radar engineers have developed various ways of countering hostile ECM (electronic countermeasures) and maintaining the ability of a radar system to perform its mission. It might be noted that a military radar system can often accomplish its mission satisfactorily even though its performance in the presence of ECM is not what it would be if such measures were absent.”

  3. You rightly point it is just a wishful Fantasy since they are both Gujarati and have been backbone of BJP going thru BJP Ideology.Remove 365,35,Start building RAM Temple IN Ayodhya,NRC and such.There is no split.JAI HIND

    • The supreme power Of God may have some thing different from the lobby rumours & outcome….let us trust in GOD rather than speculating…You may go back to History to convince you..

  4. I don’t understand a much of these politics as it’s too far for people like me to learn the game. All I would say as an individual who is born and raised in this country, that whatever the current ruling party and its players(members) are playing is just a dirty game for their own benefits and nothing for this county or its people. But by the time we all would get convinced with this fact, it will be too late.

  5. The print or telegram yoh want such a thing to happen. You become rumour generator. Your job is talk directly indirectly to create sense of un- certainty

  6. Librandus of today are behaving like the RAKSHAS of Ramayan Time. They wear the mask of liberals but act like crooks. Social media has exposed them to the extent that people don’t trust them any more. They are not just Modi haters but they are in reality enemy of India and therefore they must be destroyed.

  7. So much bad imagination and childish analysis. Stupidity manifests itself in how lazy this congrass liberals are.

  8. Ironic, how “liberal” basically means blatant Muslim appeasement. That’s why nobody wants to vote for a “Liberal”, because they treat Hindus like second-class citizens, defend Islam constantly, and appease Muslim cockroaches constantly.

    • The “Liberals” oppose free-market economic reform and try to increase socialism in India. The “Liberals” hate Hinduism and insult Indian culture, Indian civilization, and Indian religion. The “Liberals” want to destroy Indian culture and replace it with Islam. The “Liberals” use the illiterate Muslim rats as “vote bank” and do blatant Muslim appeasement. The “Liberals” are traitors to Indian civilization and are the enemies of Hindus. Screw them, and screw all the “Liberals.”

      • Your “Idea of India” that “Liberals” believe in has been rejected time and time again by the Indian people. By the way, Hinduism is 1,000,000 times more “Liberal” than Islam. If the “Liberals” want to get elected again, stop appeasing the Muslim cockroaches and pay attention to the sentiments of Hindus.

  9. During Modi second term, Amit Shah became a big too active with his hindutva agenda. First came Triple talk bill, then revoking of Art 370, followed by Babri masjid ruling , followed by NCR and CAA. Whatever he did had a cumulative effect inciting massive protests from muslim community in India .Please also recall , the OIC has also recently intervened cautioning India over the local developments following the reporting of Tabliqi Zamat in Delhi. As a sequel to it Al Qaida has come out with a similar statement.. So if this is the scenario in India, exposed to such risks, will India attract any foriegn investment ? Will any corporate house like to shift from China to India? Or will it prefer Vietnam..So Modi has every reason to worry about Amit Shah.

  10. Till today it seems no ground in discussion this point, there are well wishers & the bad wishers, instead we can say wishful thinking. Thinker. So no ground to discuss.

  11. A clipping of wings has already happened since August last year. There is no question of a split because the other person has a near zero share of the composite personality. You cannot compare Modi-Shah with Vajpeyi-Advani. The latter were near equals. Vajpeyi could never have sacked Advani. If Amit Shah is asked to leave, not the faintest whimper will be heard from any quarter of the BJP or RSS.
    I have a gut feeling that Shah has already been served a terse warning since CAA days. Something along the lines: “your voice should not be heard for two months, your photo should not be seen for two months.”

  12. These liberals, are like people who are the result of generations of inbreeding. They are also incestuous in the way they continuously intellectually pollinate each other, to such an extent that rational thought and ideas are only a dream. But it was the Dilli Darbari culture which brought them together. So they have only their wishful dreams left, to keep them active during the day, and lull them to sleep at night.

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