Amit Shah and the Politics of Performance

(Dr Vinay Sahasrabuddhe is In-Charge of BJP's National Good Governance Cell and Director of Public Policy Research Centre, New Delhi. He has also been heading Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini - South Asia's only academy for training of politicians and social workers for the last 26 years.)

When Narendra Modi took over as PM in May, he became the first post-independence born Prime Minister. And now, when his close aide Amit Shah has taken over as President of the BJP, he is the first BJP chief to have born after the end of Jawaharlal Nehru era in national politics. But the importance of the ascendance of Amit Shah is not confined just to his age profile. There are many other things that this change of guard in BJP has underscored. Firstly, it is a clear generational shift. Secondly, Shah's selection signals the unmistakable emphasis on results, something very close to Narendra Modi's heart. Thirdly, it also indicates the future areas of emphasis of the party.

Shah as the 10th national president of the BJP proves that the baton has been handed over to the younger generation. Happily, the BJP now has a band of young leaders who are vested with executive authority, and demonstrate imagination and a passion for new ideas and innovations. In fact, unlike the Grand Old Party of India, the BJP has institutionalised a mechanism for seamless succession, something rare in a non-dynastic political party.

While Rajnath Singh almost made strengthening the booth-level unit a focal point, Nitin Gadkari galvanised the party through a plethora of activities and agitations against the UPA government.

For Amit Shah, attracting the aspirational India may not be difficult; firstly due to his age (he is just 49) and secondly due to his no-nonsense approach. A firm believer in a business-like approach with a human touch, Amit Shah is a perfect modern-day politician. He is a doer, a pro-active organiser and someone who is deeply conscious of the responsibility conferred on him. But more importantly he possesses the ability to understand what is worth carrying forward and what should be abandoned.

Amit Shah's ascendance marks a new fillip to the Politics of Performance. His dexterous handling of the Lok Sabha campaign and his meticulous planning enabled the party to a bumper harvest in Uttar Pradesh. But Amit Shah was confident he could deliver. Even before the end of the fourth round of polling in UP, he had confidently predicted 50-plus seats for the BJP. He personally undertook whirlwind tours right up to the tehsil level, achieved perfect coordination with like-minded organisations with adroit handling of social engineering initiatives. He also fully exploited the popular feeling of having been duped by both the SP and BSP. These were the hallmarks of Amitatva in practise in UP.

To a fairly great extent, Amit Shah shares some personal traits with his mentor Narendra Modi. Both are non-conventional politicians, both are known for catching the bull by the horn and whenever required, both have challenged the establishment. It is this commonality between the persona of these two leaders that predictably will shape the contours of future national politics. Under Amit Shah, a strong BJP will refuse to play second fiddle to regional allies. The relationship between allies and the BJP will be based on the mutuality of need. Party cadres in hitherto politically barren lands for the BJP will have a reason to cheer because in Amit Shah they kno they have a leader who will not be disproportionately accommodative to allies. It was not for no reason that in the last leg of the Lok sabha campaign, Narendra Modi had chosen to attack Trinamul and the BJD in their respective states. It was a well- crafted strategy of converting the campaign into Modi versus all, albeit with a calculated risk. And as they say, risk-takers are always rewarded and that is what has really happened.

Hence, the Modi-Shah duo is bound to influence politics in India in the days to come. While the former has given a clarion call Congress-MUKTA Bharat, meaning India free from mal-governance, his Party chief will contribute in this mission through efforts for BJP-Yukta Bharat, a country bestowed with good governance emerging from a democratic set up where parties are strong and healthy.

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