As BJP chief Amit Shah completed one year in office on July 8 -- a post he had taken over from Rajnath Singh on July 9 last year -- there were many firsts to his credit as the BJP President. Shah led the party to victory for the first time in Haryana, got a near majority in Maharashtra and Jharkhand, another first, and formed an alliance government in Jammu and Kashmir, the northern state wherein the BJP was always considered a marginal player.
There were hardly any celebrations at the party headquarters to mark the occasion though. Shah was in Maharashtra on July 9 to participate in the party's mahasampark abhiyan. He was back in New Delhi the next day to address the OBC forum and then he was off to Kanpur the next day and then Bhopal. The BJP may have become the world's largest party with over 110 million members under his presidentship, but the BJP president -- who was given "man of the match" by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the party's victory in the Lok Sabha elections -- has not had a smooth run.
Shah had his critics questioning his leadership, as also the Modi wave, after the debacle in Delhi assembly elections this year. An assembly bypoll in Uttar Pradesh saw the BJP coming to the fourth position on a seat held by it. Charges of impropriety and corruption against Union ministers and party chief ministers only made the job tougher for the BJP president.
Although many questioned his silence over these charges -- except when he came out to defend external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj -- Shah had his critics on the backfoot recently when the NDA did quite well in the Bihar Legislative Council polls in which the NDA secured 13 out of 24 seats. The creditable performance against the formidable combine of the RJD, JDU and the Congress has raised hopes in the BJP camp.
Shah has much at stake in Bihar Assembly elections. A section of the party's old guards and the RSS have been complaining about his "aggressive" style of functioning and are looking for an opportunity to strike. Shah’s choice of light weight politicians for key organisational posts has also raised many eyebrows in the party circle.
Shah's term ends in December this year and he is likely to seek a full three-year term after that. It is now clear how the things will unfold post-Bihar elections, but Shah, for now, seems to be focused on the job. Even as he prepares for Bihar elections, his eyes are already set at Assam and West Bengal where the BJP seems to be on an upsurge.