Amit Shah is set to steer the BJP for a second term as party chief when he completes his election formalities on Sunday. It has been a tumultuous journey for the 51-year-old politician from Gujarat whose career graph as party leader saw many crests and troughs. The BJP’s drubbing in Bihar and the subsequent revolt by two of the party’s senior most leaders – LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi – had cast a shadow over his first term as BJP chief, but Shah had the last laugh.
Here are the five big reasons that titled the balance in Shah’s favour:
Amit Shah continues to remain the most trusted lieutenant of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Shah earned Modi’s trust during his Gujarat days and was rewarded with key assignments – both at the state and the central level. With more than three years remaining in power, Modi could not have found a better man to steer the party. With Shah at the helm, Modi can remain assured about a harmonious relationship between the party and the government.
Stripping Amit Shah of his current assignment would have been seen as an effort by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – BJP’s ideological mentor – challenge Modi’s authority. Already facing flak on issues like “intolerance”, removing Shah would have sent the wrong signals to the global audience. The RSS was not in favour of such a situation arising.
Even his critics envy Amit Shah’s energy and his ability to put in the extra effort to accomplish a task. During elections, including those in which the BJP was defeated, Shah had ensured a better coordination with the RSS. As party chief, he undertook some ambitious assignments, like making the BJP the world’s largest political outfit.
Shah took over from Rajnath Singh as the BJP president in July 2014 and got a truncated term as head of the party. Both Modi and the RSS felt that Shah needed more time to accomplish many tasks that were in the pipeline. Both the RSS and Modi want the government’s schemes to be popularised to reap an electoral harvest. That would become easier with Shah in charge of the organisation.
Over the next three years, the BJP will face several important elections like they did in Uttar Pradesh where they managed a sweeping win of 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats. Any change in leadership at this moment will add to the confusion among cadre, which could be detrimental to the party’s interest. Also, the party’s expansion plans – drafted by Shah – for states where it is not a significant force, can be executed well if he remains at the helm.