On the 22nd of October, 1964, a boy was born to a Gujarati businessman Anil Chandra Shah and his wife Kusumben Shah. When the little boy was ordained with the name Amit Shah, not even his family could have ever imagined that the heights of glory he would scale. Together with his friend, he would go on to usher in the greatest political realignment in Independent India.
Revered by his subordinates, loved and respected by his colleagues and feared by his political rivals and enemies alike, Amit Shah over the years has emerged as Narendra Modi’s most trusted lieutenant. The Home Minister first met the Prime Minister as a 17-year old. It’s a friendship that goes back 38 years. In these 38 years, the two of them have redefined the political contours of the country. They have brought the monster of Nerhruvianism to its knees.
It’s not for nothing that it is said, “If there is one man who holds the key to the mysteries of Modi’s mind, that man is said to be Shah…” The bond between them is such that it would be folly to view Narendra Modi’s public posturing in isolation from Shah’s. After all these years, since their time together in Gujarat and even long before that, they have slowly but surely made their way to the very top. And they did it together. And now, to speak of one is to speak of the other.
In public life, however, the deep emotional bond between Narendra Modi and Amit Shah is hardly visible. They observe all formalities and Amit Shah makes it very clear, not merely through his speech but also his actions, that he is the subordinate and Narendra Modi is his leader. That subordinate-leader relationship is never betrayed even for once in public life. In private, one would expect them to be much less formal but in public, professionalism is never breached.
Since Narendra Modi entered national politics, it appears he and Amit Shah have decided between themselves that going forward, they are going to perform two very different roles. The Prime Minister would further entrench Hindutva in the cultural landscape of the country by extending a friendly hand to his erstwhile enemies. On the other hand, Amit Shah will make it clear to everyone that the party hasn’t compromised with the values that enabled them to reach the pinnacle of Indian politics.
Recently, Amit Shah addressed a seminar on “Guptvanshak Veer: Skandagupta Vikramaditya” at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi. Quoting the government press release on the matter, “Hailing the Gupta Era under Samudragupta as the Golden Era of India, Shri Shah said that the boundaries of India under Samudragupta stretched the entire length of the subcontinent in his time. He added that in every field from art and architecture to trade and literature, India had achieved the pinnacle of civilization in the Gupta Era. Shri Shah called for recognizing the contribution of Skandagupta in making the Indian culture reach its zenith. He also remembered the battle campaign waged by Skandagupta against Hun invaders, and said that Skandagupta was one of the few warrior kings to have defeated Huns.”
It adds, “Shri Shah hailed Skandagupta as not only a great warrior, but also a skilled administrator. He said that in spite of having saved the nation from invaders, and having freed the region around Kashmir, history has not registered the contributions of Skandagupta or given him his due. He said that the responsibility to correct this lies with the present society.” Shah also emphasized on writing the history of India from an Indian perspective.
For a politician, Shah also displays a remarkable understanding of Chanakya, someone he is often compared to in terms of current-day Indian politics. His speech on one of the greatest strategists of the Hindu Civilization is worth listening to in full.
Amit Shah is also the embodiment of the transformation of the Bharatiya Janata Party as a whole. People would remember, Narendra Modi faced significant opposition even from within his party when he revealed his intention of becoming the Prime Minister of India. And as always, Amit Shah stood by his side like a rock and together with Arun Jaitley, they outsmarted every other faction within the party and paved the way for the BJP to become what it is now.
There is a certain ruthlessness about Amit Shah that sends chills across the spines of the secular-liberal establishment. Unlike some politicians who prefer to have a healthy opposition, Shah doesn’t suffer such compunctions. It’s not his business to take care of the opposition, it’s for others to come up with it. As the chief strategist of the BJP, he is only concerned with the success of his own party.
Victor Hugo once said, “No one can resist an idea whose time has come. Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come. Armies cannot stop an idea whose time has come. No army can stop an idea whose time has come.” The success of Amit Shah and PM Narendra Modi is a testament to the fact that Hindutva’s time to shine has indeed arrived.
Amit Shah is completely unapologetic about his political beliefs. He displays the sort of ideological fortitude that makes the liberal establishment nervous. His confidence comes from the fact that he is convinced that his ideological positions are superior to that of his opponent’s. He doesn’t indulge himself in apologia, he relies on the conviction that he has in the strength of his beliefs to make his case. As he said once, “I am blunt. If I convey a message, I will not nuance it to the extent that the very intent is lost.”
On the occasion of his 55th birthday, many people already see him as Narendra Modi’s inevitable successor and with good reason. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Narendra Modi’s most trusted lieutenant were to succeed him as Prime Minister. Liberals are already dismayed by the prospect. And understandably so. Amit Shah is a staunch nationalist and unabashed Hindutvavadi. Above all, he likes to win.
As a strategist, he never loses sight of the bigger picture. If he has to make compromises along the way, he will make them as long as the party doesn’t stray from the larger objective. In the past few years, many leaders have been inducted into the party who are not very well-liked by the online support base of the party. However, it is safe to say that Amit Shah does not see it that way. In his eyes, the end justifies the means. And when the larger objective is achieved, it doesn’t matter how it was.
Within a couple of months of the NDA government returning to power with an even greater majority than in 2014, Article 370 was history. The Citizenship Amendment Bill, which is perhaps the first explicitly pro-Hindu Bill proposed in the Parliament of India, will most probably be passed by the Parliament in the near future. The Radical Islamic Terrorists in Kashmir will be made to kneel. Amit Shah has also hinted that another NRC will be implemented, by the government this time. The construction of the Ram Mandir also appears inevitable at this point.
These are historic achievements by any measure and all of this is likely to come to pass during Amit Shah’s tenure as Home Minister. No matter how one sees it, Amit Shah will go down in history as the Home Minister who redefined the inherent structure of the Indian State under the able leadership of his trusted friend and arguably, his mentor, Narendra Damordas Modi.
On his 55th birthday, India stands on the cusp of history. And there are enough indications that the country faces tumultuous times ahead. But the manner in which Narendra Modi and Amit Shah guide the country through this period of turmoil will not just define their own personal legacies but also the future of India for generations to come.