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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Inside Track: What Amit Shah learnt from Narendra Modi in 1987

Coomi Kapoor writes: Shah traces the story of Modi’s success as a poll strategist not to the Gujarat chief ministerial or 2014 campaigns, but way back to 1987, when Modi was given charge of the BJP campaign in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation polls.

Written by Coomi Kapoor |
Updated: May 23, 2022 7:42:56 am
Amit Shah, Narendra Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress, Uddhav Thackeray, Devendra Fadnavis, Supreme Court, Chintan Shivir, Indian express, Coomi Kapoor writes, Opinion, Current AffairsIn their two long tours through Gujarat, Modi taught Shah many important lessons.

Amit Shah is considered the shrewdest campaign manager around. In the compilation of essays Modi @20, Shah acknowledges that he learnt the tricks of the trade from a master, Narendra Modi. Shah traces the story of Modi’s success as a poll strategist not to the Gujarat chief ministerial or 2014 campaigns, but way back to 1987, when Modi was given charge of the BJP campaign in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation polls. At that time, the Congress was the dominant party in Gujarat and across the country. The BJP, with about a dozen seats, was hardly in the electoral reckoning and the Janata Dal was the Congress’s main rival. Modi was then general secretary (Organisation) and Shah in-charge of the BJP Ahmedabad unit. Against all odds, the BJP won a majority of the municipal seats and the Mayor’s office that year. In their two long tours through Gujarat, Modi taught Shah many important lessons. One piece of advice which always stayed with Shah was that in every village there would be two major candidates from the preceding sarpanch elections. While the winner would be from the Congress or the JD, Modi made it a point of wooing the loser and persuading him to join the BJP. Gujarat has not turned its back on the BJP since the mid-1990s.

Matter of No Debate

At the Congress Chintan Shivir, Acharya Pramod Krishnam, a Priyanka Gandhi Vadra protégé, suggested that if Rahul Gandhi was not interested in being party chief, why not appoint Priyanka. A furious Vadra signalled to Deepender Hooda to make Krishnam shut up. Mallikarjun Kharge also pitched in, telling the self-styled spiritual guru that junior members were not expected to speak out of turn. Later, Vadra gave Krishnam a tongue lashing in front of several delegates. She angrily accused him of describing himself as her political adviser when no one had given him any such authority. Incidentally, at the Udaipur meet, the G-23 members remained largely silent, perhaps aware that they were outfoxed and outnumbered.

Passport Man?

When she died in August 2019, the media rightly eulogised Sushma Swaraj for revolutionising the passport application process in India. As Minister for External Affairs, Swaraj vastly increased the number of Passport Seva Kendras across the country.  After her death, many testified how hitherto unhelpful passport officers creating unnecessary delays had fallen in line when Swaraj responded to  tweets from people asking for assistance. This columnist was, therefore, taken aback to receive an invitation last month to the premiere of a documentary Passport Man of India, giving credit for the passport revolution to Dnyaneshwar Mulay, a member of the NHRC. Mishra was formerly in the IFS, but how he has usurped Swaraj’s legacy is a mystery.

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No Pull Appointment

With uncharacteristic speed, the Central government cleared the appointment of Justice Jamshed Pardiwala to the Supreme Court, superseding many others. This led to a buzz in Delhi’s cynical law fraternity that he must have benefited from his Gujarat connection. In fact, the outspoken and independent-minded judge has never been a favourite of the establishment. When he was to be appointed judge in the Gujarat HC, the state government, with Narendra Modi as CM, held up the appointment for over a year. Pardiwala’s judicial pronouncements have frequently been unfavourable to the ruling party; whether barring the Jagannath Yatra, pulling up the Gujarat government for its handling of the pandemic or ordering a re-trial of former BJP MP Dinu Solanki, who was later sentenced to life imprisonment for murder. Clearly the Centre did not interfere in the Collegium’s recommendations. According to seniority, Pardiwala is expected to serve as Chief Justice for two years and three months in 2028. Incidentally, Pardiwala will not be the fourth Parsi SC judge, as reported by some, but the sixth; Dinshah Madon, Sam Bharucha, Sam Variava, Sarosh Kapadia and Rohinton Nariman precede him.

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Competitive Hindutva

The fight between Uddhav Thackeray and Devendra Fadnavis has become deeply personal, with both claiming to be real Hindutva champions. At his rally, Thackeray pointed out that when the Babri Masjid was destroyed by kar sevaks, the BJP had termed the move as “unfortunate” and disowned responsibility, while Bal Thackeray hailed the demolition. The late Pramod Mahajan had said that the kar sevaks who brought down the dome were largely Marathi-speaking, indicating they were Sena workers. He said that while RSS uniform calls for black caps, the Sainiks have always flaunted saffron colours. He wondered how Fadnavis could question the Sena’s decision to ally with the Congress when the BJP had once tied up with Mehbooba Mufti and was even today unable to protect Kashmiri Pandits.

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