With 2 bills Shah cements himself as Modi heir
The dominant view in the BJP is home minister Amit Shah has fortified his image as a “pure Hindutva icon” after piloting two key bills, the abrogation of the provision in Article 370 that gave Jammu and Kashmir its special status and now the one on citizenship.
The two issues form the ideological core of the Sangh parivar and through his actions on the two fronts, BJP president Shah has firmly established himself as the successor of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, many in the BJP believe.
Shah, who as party chief had for long been seen as the second most powerful leader after Modi, has now secured a firm grip on the government in just over six months of its second term. In fact what had been “Modi sarkar” is now being widely seen as the “Modi-Shah government”.
“The… clarity with which Amitbhai spoke in the House over the citizenship issue (on Monday)… presented him as a pure Hindutva icon who has unalloyed commitment to the saffron ideology,” a BJP leader said, adding that Shah had established himself as the next prime ministerial face of the party.
The optics in the Lok Sabha at the midnight hour on Monday when the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed once again reflected the importance of Shah. Modi, who was away in Jharkhand for poll campaign in the afternoon, was back in Delhi by the evening but didn’t turn up in the Lok Sabha.
With the Prime Minister’s seat empty, Shah virtually appeared like the leader of the House with the BJP MPs cheering and hailing him with slogans of “Bharat mata ki jai”.
Though the reason for the Prime Minister choosing not to come to the House was not known, some BJP leaders saw a deliberate strategy to allow Shah to take all the credit for the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and to project and establish himself as Modi’s successor.
“I would like to specifically applaud Home Minister @AmitShah Ji for lucidly explaining all aspects of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019. He also gave elaborate answers to the various points raised by respective MPs during the discussion in the Lok Sabha,” Modi tweeted past midnight.
Clad in an orange half-jacket that looked saffron on many TV screens, Shah repeatedly referred to “Narendra Modi ki sarkar” and hailed Modi for the “bold” citizenship amendment but BJP leaders credited the home minister for the latest move and also the one on Article 370.
“It was only because of Shah that the two contentious bills got pushed in just six months of the new government. This is Shah’s style, to go for the kill,” a BJP leader said.
Privately, BJP leaders discussed how Shah had emerged as Modi’s successor. Some leaders said in many aspects Shah had bettered Modi.
“The way he goes into each and every detail and counters the Opposition is amazing. He may not have Modiji’s charisma, but he is much bolder than the Prime Minister,” a BJP leader gushed.
A senior leader said he was impressed by the way Shah tackled the Congress’s objection to the exclusion of Muslims. “Amitbhai said that since Muslims are not a minority in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, they have been kept out (of the purview of the CAB),” the leader said.
Shah kept on harping on the word “minority” to project the Congress as a party only concerned about Muslims and not any other minority community.
Many BJP leaders feel Shah could take over as early as post-2024, when Modi faces his third national election, basing their assumption on the way Modi was “promoting” his deputy.