MAGAZINE NEW DELHI january 1 2017 SUNDAY PAGES 16 special issue 2016-2017 Person of the Year Amit Shah Midas of Mandates He got a second term as party president unchallenged. He reversed the BJP’s defeat in Bihar by engineering a spectacular victory in Assam. He defused the Patidar revolt in Gujarat. Narendra Modi’s trusted party chief’s next big challenge is to win the Uttar Pradesh elections in the face of note ban blues. S By Manish Anand ome men choose their destiny Some men are chosen by . destiny The high priest of the BJP, Amitbhai Anilchandra . Shah, belongs to the latter category 2016 has been the Year of . Amit Shah. He is one of the few party chiefs who wields enough clout to make or mar even high-profile careers in the organisation and the government. Nobody enjoys the trust of the prime minister like the ‘Hanuman’ to Narendra Modi’s Ram, as a senior minister remarked. The governing party has had a stormy run, with surprises sprung on it in Bihar last year and springing a pleasant surprise in Assam this year. In January, the bespectacled, deceptively soft-spoken politician from Gujarat—who prefers white kurtas unlike his mentor’s sartorial flair for colour— was elected BJP president for a second time. The Modi loyalist’s coup of the year was Assam, where he took the BJP to its maiden electoral victory in the state May, defeating three-time chief minister Tarun Gogoi. The party scored 60 seats, in contrast to its previous strength of five MLAs. Under Shah, the BJP registered an energetic upswing in Kerala, when it opened its account in the Assembly even as the Left wave swept the state. The BJP doubled its vote percentage to 15. In Modi’s Ground Zero, Gujarat—which is also Shah’s political playground—he neutered the new poster boy of reservation Hardik Patel and his Patidar agitation by swiftly replacing Anandiben Patel with decisive administrator Vijay Rupani as the chief minister. The agitation had hogged the limelight in 2015. When the sun set on 2016, it was evident that Lord Shiva—who Shah worships fervently and regularly at the legendary Somnath Temple—has been kind to him. The BJP ended December with massive wins in local body polls in Chandigarh and Maharashtra, where both Punjab-hungry Arvind Kejriwal and the irascible NDA ally Shiv Sena are challenging demonetisation. In early December, the RSS reportedly sent a note to Modi warning that unless the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections are pushed ahead, the BJP could suffer serious setbacks. Shah knows politics is driven by perception. Victories in the Lok Sabha by-elections and local body polls in many states boosted his image as BJP’s Chanakya. Turn to page 2 S W O T Strength Weakness Opportunity Threat Shah’s organisational abilities. He believes in thorough preparations and is equally resourceful to scale up the level of campaigning to make the rivals look small. The BJP chief is also tech-savvy. Relies excessively on a few trusted lieutenants. Since he seeks to micro-manage party affairs, independent minded politicians have begun distancing themselves from him. He is also seen as a status quoist, for he has not brought any major changes in the BJP’s approach. Shah became BJP chief because Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted a “perfect” government-party coordination. Elections in five states are his opportunities to prove his mettle and grow out of Modi’s shadow. Demonetisation is Modi’s biggest decision yet, but it is the loudest threat to Shah. If BJP loses state elections in 2017, the Opposition may galvanise to throw an alternative front for 2019. Losses in 2017 can also make the silent dissidence in BJP vocal against Shah’s style of functioning. shekhar yadav
Express Publications (Madurai) Limited publishes the prestigious English language newspaper The New Indian Express from 21 centres in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Orissa.
Express Publications (Madurai) Ltd. also publishes the Tamil daily Dinamani, Cinema Express (Tamil) and Malayalam Vaarika (Malayalam). Through a sister company, Kannada Prabha Publications Ltd., it publishes the Kannada daily Kannada Prabha.