With the second term in the office, Indian PM Narendra Modi reshuffled the cabinet and expectedly named his long-term associate and colleague – Amit Shah as the Indian home minister. Amit Shah did not disappoint and was instrumental in ending the contentious Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir – which gave special status to the people of the region.
Amitabh Anilchandra Shah or Amit Shah is the current Minister of Home Affairs who has been President of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2014, was first elected to the Lower House of Parliament the Lok Sabha in the 2019 Indian general election from Gandhinagar.
Shah was earlier elected as a member of the upper House of Parliament the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat in 2017. He also became the youngest serving full-time Home Minister at an age of 54. He is the chief strategist of the BJP and a close aide to Narendra Modi.
When the party won the parliamentary elections, Shah won many hearts with his historic speech in early August. Long known as one of India’s most successful political strategists, BJP’s Chanakya is now taking a higher profile in pushing on an agenda long-held by Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to elevate the interests of Hindus, who comprise about 80 per cent of the country’s 1.3 billion people.
The actions are designed to keep the BJP in power for decades to come by trying to build a unified Hindu identity in a nation traditionally divided by caste. If successful, they could pave the way for the 55-year-old Shah to one day take over from Modi, 69, as India’s prime minister.
Michael Kugelman, senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington who has closely researched India’s politics over the past decade stated “When Modi is finally ready to step down; Shah will clearly be a top candidate to be his successor. He is deeply loyal to the party, happens to be close to its most powerful figure and harbours views that are in close alignment with the BJP’s current zeitgeist.”
Digging deeper into the story, Amit Shah’s rise from a lowly party worker who worked as volunteer sticking posters to becoming home minister, is now India’s second most important person has been closely linked with Modi’s own climb to the top.
The two men first met in the mid-1980s in the western state of Gujarat as members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a right-wing Hindu organization that grooms talent for the BJP.
After Modi became Gujarat’s leader in 2001, Shah was put in charge of the state’s security apparatus. Federal investigators under a government-run by the Congress Party, the BJP’s main opponent later charged him with running an extortion racket and ordering three murders.
Shah was forced to resign in 2010, briefly spent time behind the bars and was banned from Gujarat, while he persistently denied the charges against him.
Modi still insisted him on being crucial to the objective parliament in 2014. And the party came out with flying colours with 71 out of 80 seats in the elections. The win cemented Shah’s reputation as a political mastermind, and he was soon appointed as the BJP’s president, the top job in its internal hierarchy. A few months after the 2014 elections, the court removed all the allegations against him.
Nishit Vyas, a Congress leader in Gujarat stated – “They are able to take steps as they wish because they don’t follow rules, have no respect for democracy and are not even afraid of God. Modi is the face and Shah is clearly the brain behind it all.”
Anirban Ganguly, a BJP member who wrote a political biography of Shah and has spent time with him stated “He is extremely decisive, has the capacity to take quick decisions and assess scenarios very well. He never leaves loose ends.”
After, the planned negotiation to remove special status of Jammu and Kashmir, next on Shah’s to-do list was to get a verdict in favour of the Hindu community on the Ram Mandir Babri Masjid case.
After decades of mandir-masjid politics in the country, the Supreme Court of India gave the land to the Hindu community. Lord Ram, the deity Ram Lalla, was recognised as a legitimate legal personality and given the title to the entire 2.77-acre disputed property in Ayodhya and this was seen another big victory for Amit Shah.
And don’t forget the NRC of Assam. The North-East Indian state of Assam has become the first state in India where the updating of the NRC is being undertaken The register was initially, specifically made for Assam state. However, on 20th November 2019, Home Minister Amit Shah declared during a parliamentary session that the register would be extended to the entire country. Amit Shah has clearly indicated that NRC to be applied National wide and no person of any religion should worry.
Satya Pal Singh, a lawmaker from the BJP and former minister in Modi’s government “After the prime minister, he is the final authority. If something comes from Amit Shah, it should be carried out. We all know this.”