Shah’s elevation: That’s Modi Model
In the womb of conflict lie seeds of change. You need conflict to grow but you must learn to harvest from it. Or so says Subroto Baghchi, the chairman of the hugely successful, global IT solutions company, Mindtree in one of his very popular books.
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi seems to have picked a page out of it to parent a politics of confrontation and conflict that saw him chisel out an unprecedented national mandate for the BJP and the prime ministership of India for himself.
If the 2002 ethnic conflict that followed the Godhra train carnage brought Modi to national focus, it was his aggressive ,confrontational politics that paid him rich dividends. Dispensing with niceties of the previous generation, Modi lunged into his opponents, both within the party and without, to decimate as well as create-decimate his rivals and create a national constituency .
Modi’s politics brooks no grey. There is only black and white. You are either for him or deemed to be against him. But it also spawns fiercely loyal followers who are prepared to go through hell and highwater for their leader. The present Gujarat chief minister, Anandiben Patel and BJP national president Amit Shah are two such followers.
You cannot understand the present nor predict the future unless you understand the past. Both Patel and Shah, have been the closest lieutenants of Modi remaining steadfastly loyal through his over two decade long political career. Though both his confidantes have remained at loggerheads with each other, they have been used for different roles and their politics fashioned accordingly. While Patel was more into governance all along maintaining an aloofish profile, Shah was the one who soiled his hand in the mud in a no limits life beyond what was mandated by his chief.
Both have been amply rewarded for their pains. Both had chief ministership of Gujarat in their sights but, in hindsight, there seems to have been no confusion in Modi’s mind. Those aware of the intracacies of Gujarat politics were all along aware that Anandiben would succeed Modi. Shah’s period of incarceration from Gujarat proved a boon in disguise both for himself as well as Modi. Shah’s entry into the state was barred under court orders following his resignation as home minister and subsequent arrest in connection with the fake encounter case. Shah spent more time in Delhi laisoning with the party political leadership and acquainting himself with the currents and cross-currents within. He was not only the most trustworthy eyes and ears of Modi in Delhi but also his hands ,carrying out his bidding. While in Delhi, Shah was also monitoring UP for Modi, even before he was officially given charge of the state by the party. What followed in Uttar Pradesh thereafter is history now with the Shah-Modi magic bagging 73 of the 80 seats in the state.
Shah’s elevation as national party president by Modi is a just reward for his second most loyal follower, in fact much more than he had bargained for when he held the key home portfolio in Gujarat.
The more things change, the more they remain the same. Those who have followed Modi over the years in Gujarat and out of it, can see the pattern emerging clearly.
The present prime minister believes in ruling from a position of strength. He does not brook interference and rarely retreats, not even tactically to secure a situation. It is his break breaking labour, strategizing, planning and execution that has secured the first clear mandate for the BJP. His first cabinet is not an exercise in balance of regions, castes or states. It is one of command and control. Those who have not understood, will see things for themselves in the times to come. He is clearly the leader in full command of the government.
Amit Shah’s elevation is clear indicator that Modi is now also in clear charge of the national party as well. If doubts linger, rest assured, complete control will follow soon.
This was the norm in Gujarat as well. Modi was the government and Modi was the party. It was not so when he took charge in 2001. There was dissent and rebellions galore but using a combination of guile and guts he eliminated it ruthlessly until he emerged the lord and master of all that he surveyed. The direct rapport with the masses that ensured a massive mandate repeatedly steamrolled all opposition, both within the party as well as outside it.
It was said that Gujarat was a small state and a vast and varied India, a different preposition altogether. Like it or lump it, but Modi has repeated Gujarat at the national level, both in his overwhelming mandate as well as control over levers of power.
No one spoke out of line in Gujarat. Not in the government, not in the party. Many a times, official spokespersons would reply to awkward questions at media briefings with a one liner ‘not our brief’. In Delhi after Modi took over, the cacophony of disparate voices heard from various BJP leaders is a thing of the past. Those who were fond of hugging headline - stirring controversies on a daily basis, have decided to give their vocal cords a rest.
Modi is also reported to have politely told the RSS top brass at Nagpur of the need for discretion and quietitude in the interest of the public image of the government. And his writ is running. It will further more for that is the real Modi model!