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Amit Shah: New ‘sher’, made in 5 months

Modi appears to be ceding space to him on the national stage

By J.P. Yadav in New Delhi
  • Published 12.10.19, 5:37 AM
  • Updated 12.10.19, 7:15 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Shah at a rally in Pune PTI

Amit Shah is being hailed as “Hindustan ka sher” — a moniker Narendra Modi had taken years to acquire — by party leaders at election rallies where he then humbly gives all the credit to the Prime Minister with the “56-inch chest”, describing him as a world leader.

Less than five months into Shah’s maiden stint as Union minister, Modi appears to be ceding space to him on the national stage.

Slogans of “sher aaya, sher aaya; Hindustan ka sher aaya” were raised from the dais in Solapur, Maharashtra, on Thursday as a local BJP leader announced the next speaker at the poll rally: “Desh ka lauh purush (Iron Man of India)”, home minister Amit Shah.

The slogan was a flashback to Modi’s days as Gujarat chief minister after the 2002 riots, when a popular chant at rallies was: “Kaun aaya, kaun aaya; Gujarat ka sher aaya.”

It took years for Modi to transform from “Gujarat ka sher” to “Hindustan ka sher”. When Modi kicked off his 2014 prime ministerial campaign from Haryana’s Rewari, a lion’s roar played in the background as he took the stage.

Shah’s ascent to “Hindustan ka sher” has been rapid by comparison.

“Article 370 ke nayak, desh ke lauh purush (The architect of Article 370, Iron Man of India)” was the introduction for Shah on the Solapur stage after the “Hindustan ka sher” chants.

At another rally in Latur the same day, Shah was introduced as the leader who had “liberated” Jammu & Kashmir and was equated with “Netaji” and “Sardar Patel”. “He is the ‘mahanayak’ of the 21st century,” the BJP leader welcoming him said.

In his speech, however, Shah said the huge mandate given by the people had empowered the Prime Minister with the “56 inch chest” to “uproot” Article 370 and integrate Kashmir with India.

Showering praise on Modi, the BJP president said US President Donald Trump was dazzled to see the huge crowd in Houston chanting “Modi, Modi…”. “Trump said, ‘Modi is the most popular leader of the world’,” he said.

Shah repeated this narration at all his rallies, stressing how Modi had gone beyond the country to dominate the world stage. “Any country that Modi ji goes to, be it US, Japan or Britain, a huge crowd gathers to greet him with slogans of Modi, Modi…,” he said.

In party circles, the message that has gone out is that Modi is busy with bigger responsibilities across and he has delegated domestic responsibilities to Shah.