The story of Amit Shah's political life, struggles, rise and triumph is little known. For a leader who is often referred to as the Chanakya of Indian politics, who has dominated India's fast-paced and complex political stage since 2014, has altered its electoral map by leading the Bharatiya Janata Party (FLIP) to successive historic victories post the May 2014 general elections, there is very little that is recorded or narrated. So, it's no surprise that the curiosity he evokes is ever on the rise.
Most of what is written about Amit Shah is based on conjectures, hearsay, assumptions and biases. The real Amit Shah-the once booth-worker and now national president of the largest political party in the world, the master strategist who has pushed the BJP to an organisational pinnacle and yet talks of scaling peaks, a man who is unhesitant in his stand on nationalism and on anything which concerns India's national interest-has remained in the shadows, self-effaced, away from the limelight.
The story of how he expanded the BJP into a pan-India party and the convergence of organisational science and ideology that has made the BJP a unique and formidable political entity is a story that needs to be told. The book narrates the personal and political journey of Amit Shah, captures the ideological world that shaped him and gives an account of the party that he is leading and shaping today. It is for the first time that his story is being told-an authentic, no-holds-barred portrayal of one of the most influential leaders of our times.
To the political worker, the observer and to anyone even remotely interested in Indian politics, irrespective of their profession or political leaning, especially since the unfolding of Indian politics in the summer of 2014, this is a captivating exploration of the political life and journey of one of its central characters.
In public life continuously for the last four decades, Amit Shah has risen today to become the national president of the world's largest political party. He also comes forth as the principle troubleshooter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has successfully run a full majority government for the last five years. Everyone knows the Amit Shah of national politics, but there is perhaps hardly anyone who can definitively claim that they know everything about him.
Starting from the early years of his political career to being elected member of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) in 2017, Shah has never lost an election; it reflects his electoral and organisational acumen and tenacity. Over the years, he has also emerged as a master in contesting elections and in making others contest as well. Amit Shah's unique capacity for strategising elections is well recognised, but few know that electoral politics is only one dimension of his personality.
Shah is also among those few leaders who like to break the status-quo and to reject outdated methods of doing things. He has always come across as quick to devise and to adopt new ways, displaying phenomenal organisational abilities and an adept at crisis management. Amit Shah's life cannot be bound in a single tome, but one can certainly get an insight into a number of unknown dimensions of his life from this book.
The first thing that one perhaps needs to learn from Amit Shah is how to convert challenges into opportunities. He resolutely converted a very difficult phase in his life into one that became a life-transforming period. There was a time when, as we know, Shah faced police cases, had to leave Gujarat as an exile on the order of the court and was compelled to live a cloistered existence in Delhi. On the one hand, he was separated from his family, on the other, he had to stay put in a new city, with people he did not know, constantly doing the rounds of courts and unable to talk freely over the phone, apprehensive that his calls were being monitored. Anyone else in his shoes would have given up in despair and may have left politics altogether, but not Shah. I have seen him face several crisis situations. Not only did Shah work on each case with his lawyers meticulously, but he himself went into details of each one of them and like an adroit lawyer planned every move. In these trying times, one never saw him fatigued and worried, instead, he always exuded a quiet confidence.
The most interesting aspect ofAmit Shah's life during this phase of trial and tribulations was that he converted the compulsion of having to live in Delhi in exile into an occasion for strengthening the various dimensions of his life. Anyone who has the ability to convert a crisis into an opportunity and does not fear struggle can never be defeated. Amit Shah repeatedly demonstrated this indomitable ability.
Initially, the Delhi-based `Lutyen's caucus' saw Amit Shah as merely Narendra Modi's man Friday. They saw Shah as the key person who could lead them to Modi. They never really tried to know Shah beyond this. Only when he performed the historic electoral feat of winning 73 seats for the BJP from Uttar Pradesh did they want to know him better. Those in the corridors of power began wondering who he was and where he had come from. All agreed that had Uttar Pradesh not seen such a result, one would not see a stable Narendra Modi government at the Centre.
Whenever the `Lutyen's consensus' perceives someone who can weave electoral victories from the grass roots and on difficult terrains, their inquisitiveness increases. Everyone wanted to know someone who knew Amit Shah. The inquisitiveness increased manifold, once Shah became the national president of the BJP-everybody now wanted to connect with him. But there were few who really knew Shah, and Shah himself met very few people. Even in the national team that he put together to run the party, there were very few who were widely known faces. Those in the corridors of power in Delhi often find it difficult to evaluate such a personality and despite trying their best, they could neither really understand Amit Shah nor could they get through to him.
In the meanwhile, Shah had already started leaving his imprint on national politics. Under his organisational leadership, the party began winning a series of elections. The more he continued to emerge as a strong and skilful strategist, the greater was the interest in him.
Amit Shah also established himself as a powerful orator and a section of the national media in Delhi saw in him a leader who could resolutely and convincingly riposte to their questions. Shah has never cared for criticism and pays scant attention to advices proffered by the `Lutyen's elite'. He did not alter his style of functioning and was thus promptly labelled as arrogant. He was patronisingly advised that since 'You are president of the party, meet people, meet party people freely and take everyone along.' But Shah neither changed his style of working nor did he alter his way of thinking and went on to make the BJP the world's largest party, a record.
renewed interest in the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) was perceived to be growing around June 2013 when Narendra Modi was declared the chief of the party's election campaign for the 2014 general elections. In the days and months to come, Modi would weave an impressive and dominant narrative that would give rise to a strong and compelling emotion for change. This would eventually grow into a massive wave that would sweep away the Congress dispensation which had ruled India for a decade from 2004 to 2014.
Since May 2014, worldwide interest both in the Narendra Modi-led government and the party-BJP-has kept growing. Interestingly, as we have discussed in the pages of this book, both the government led by Modi and the party led by Amit Shah have continued in their respective trajectories of activities, innovation, performance and results and yet have been linked and coordinated in their functioning.
The party that had systemically initiated, supported, sustained and upheld the electoral struggle and narrative for India in 2014 did not recede into complacency after the massive victory. Interestingly and fascinatingly, the BJP, after its victory in 2014, launched itself on a mission of expansion, of restructuring and of widening its activities and outreach. It directed itself into sustained creative political programmes that eventually saw it, by 2018, forming governments or being part of governments in twenty-one Indian states that covers 70 per cent of India's population. Its political narrative became the dominant one with its political presence becoming pan-Indian. This phase also saw the BJP decisively break out of the false stereotype of being a `Hindi heartland party'-a stereotype that was imposed on it to suit a certain political angle and motive.
This phase had also been a very creative one for the BJP, seeing as the party achieved many landmarks, some of which actually redefined the manner and dimension of the functioning of political parties while restating their roles and responsibilities vis-a-vis society and polity.
Despite the near constant pressures and exigencies of a continuous cycle of elections, the BJP has, from 2014 to the present, displayed a distinct effort at evolving beyond the matrix and framework of being a mere electoral machine or a political entity which comes to life and takes to action only when elections are round the corner. In this, it has left far behind other political formations-formations which are either family governed, dynasty driven and election-oriented entities with no political creativity and scope for expansion such as Rahul Gandhi-led Congress or those which are increasingly faced with a shrinking membership base, ideological confusion and depleting electoral footprints like the communist parties in India today.
Some of the milestones that have been reached in this phase have had a great impact on the party as a whole. The BJP's emergence as the largest political party in the world through a unique membership drive, the creative and imaginative countrywide training initiative for workers of the party, the restructuring of the party and imparting it a modernised work ambience and support system, its ideological self-renewal, its nationwide outreach, its various dimensions and layers, its innovative and effective booth outreach programme, enrolling young and dynamic workers from all strata of society and from across the country as Vistaraks, the successful celebrations of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya's centenary through a series of innovative political initiatives, the streamlining of the party's functioning into departments and projects, the massive victory in Uttar Pradesh (UP) in March 2017, the inroads and victories across the entire stretch of India's Northeast, the resounding victory in Tripura and the cycle of electoral victories in general across the country, the historic Yatra against political violence in Kerala, the Yatra for the Tricolour and in remembrance of freedom fighters are some of the many milestones that have defined the BJP's journey from the summer of 2014.
It is a journey which has distinctly energised the party's overall approach to its own political activities and programmes and has galvanised its rank and file. It has begun to alter mindsets by articulating the contours of a different political discourse. One of the greatest successes of the BJP during this phase has been in its role as the bridge between its government at the centre and in the states and the people at large. A bridge that reads and interprets emotions, aspirations, reactions and hopes of the people and conveys it to its formation in power-the government at the centre-and a conveyor belt which successfully, creatively and continuously disseminates the vision of transformative governance that Narendra Modi has articulated and acted upon in these last four years that he has been in power.
Since 2014, the BJP has presented itself as an organism which is active among people, which is active in itself through its various organs and units and which is proactive in trying to continuously re-invent itself. These have been years packed with creative and result-oriented action, years which have, in a sense, seen the party evolve to a new level. It is only the hard-boiled cynics or the diehard political adversaries who will refuse to see or acknowledge the changes and the leap forward.
As a party, the BJP too has a narrative since the summer of 2014. There is a story to record and recount. With the increasing interest in the BJP and an increasing curiosity in its working, structure, philosophy, electoral and expansion strategies, more and more scholars, commentators, observers and wannabe authors have been focusing on the party and its trajectory since 2014.
The discussion has veered round to how the BJP wins, how the party functions, how its president Amit Shah directs it, how its physical and ideological structures are in the process of receiving fresh doses of energy and direction and how Shah has turned it into a vast and disciplined machine that is winning elections after elections while emerging as the centre of Indian politics. Some of these readings have been shallow, perfunctory and have succeeded to just scratch the surface while lacking any real understanding of the fundamental changes that the party is witnessing today. They have failed to grasp altogether the deeper raison d'être behind the effort to upgrade and impart greater stability to the organs and units of the principal edifice of the party. Some readings have been of a more serious nature; the best narrator of the rise of the BJP during this period is perhaps Shah himself and his programmes that speak for themselves.
However, most of the readings and narratives that have emerged have been based on speculations, surmises and assumptions. The writers or commentators have never had access to actual information, or even if they had they never had access to the deeper details and the full information. At times, when Shah himself spoke of these publicly-which was not often-one could get an idea of the party’s workings, otherwise most of it was speculative.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Item Code: NAS440 Author: Anirban Ganguly and Shiwanand Dwivedi Cover: PAPERBACK Edition: 2019 Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing India Pvt. Ltd ISBN: 9789388134118 Language: English Size: 9.50 X 6.00 inch Pages: 320 (55 Color Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.45 Kg