Election result: With stellar show, Amit emerges Shah riding saffron surge in Uttar Pradesh | assembly-elections$uttarpradesh-2017 | Hindustan Times
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Election result: With stellar show, Amit emerges Shah riding saffron surge in Uttar Pradesh

BJP’s stellar show in Uttar Pradesh not only leaves the opposition shell shocked, it also strengthens the grip of Narendra Modi and Shah over the party and the country.

assembly elections Updated: Mar 12, 2017 01:03 IST
Kumar Uttam
Amit Shah
BJP president Amit Shah greets supporters and party workers after election results, in New Delhi.(Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times)

During the poll campaign in Uttar Pradesh, BJP chief Amit Shah told nearly every journalist he met that once the results were announced, newspapers’ headline would be: “BJP demonetises opposition”. He might not be far off the mark.

BJP’s stellar show in Uttar Pradesh not only leaves the opposition shell shocked, it also strengthens the grip of Narendra Modi and Shah over the party and the country.

The two politicians from Gujarat have built a new BJP, much to the discomfort of some veterans. They have also created a new social combination that places a premium on the backward communities at the cost of the party’s traditional supporters.

The stunning show in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand will go a long way in helping the Modi-Shah duo to continue their experiment of pushing a new set of leaders in these two states, much as they did in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand.

Saturday’s result helps Shah in two ways. First, it reinforces his image of being a leader who knows the art of winning elections. Modi called him the “man of the match” for the BJP’s dream run in the 2014 general elections. Under Shah’s leadership, the BJP put up its best performance ever first in Uttar Pradesh in Lok Sabha elections — securing 71 of 80 seats in the state — and now in these Assembly polls.

With the routing of the BJP in the Bihar and Delhi Assembly polls in 2015, Shah’s image was dented. But he returned with a bang in subsequent elections in other states.

While the BJP did ride the Modi wave in UP, Shah’s contributions can’t be over-emphasised. It was he and his men who decided every candidate and devised every strategy. The party’s stupendous show in UP helps him silence critics in the party who questioned his style of functioning over the past two-and-a half years.

He has been in total command of the party, to the displeasure of others and even the RSS on occasion. From appointments in the party to the distribution of election tickets, Shah had the last word. This victory will give him a reason to be more assertive.

It also gives him more power to bring about desired changes in the BJP’s organisation at the central and state levels. Shah is continuing with the old team, and there has been a buzz about an impending reshuffle. His critics blame him for putting a premium on allegiance while assigning organisational jobs. After the result in UP, he can brush such criticism aside and build a team of his own.