The accusations against the BJP's new president

09 July 2014
Amit Shah in Ayodhya after praying at the disputed Ram temple site.
PTI
Amit Shah in Ayodhya after praying at the disputed Ram temple site.
PTI

Two months after steering the BJP to a colossal electoral victory in Uttar Pradesh—key to their majority in the Lok Sabha—Narendra Modi’s close confidante, Amit Shah, was appointed BJP president today, succeeding Rajnath Singh who held the post for the past two years. Shah’s career has always been closely linked to that of Modi’s, though he largely worked in the shadows while Modi grew increasingly prominent. His appointment as BJP president suggests that Modi, through Shah, now controls both the government and the party they belong to.

In this extract from ‘The Organiser’ in The Caravan’s April 2014 issue, Poornima Joshi tracks several troubling incidents to which Amit Shah’s name has been linked.

Narendra Modi was appointed the chief minister of Gujarat in October 2001. Over the course of the following years, he and Amit Shah worked to sideline their political rivals. Any leader with the slightest potential to challenge Modi was either shunted or otherwise fell out of Modi’s way.

“Shah is the only one Modi has relied on and, together, they may have retained power, but they destroyed the BJP in Gujarat organisationally and ideologically,” the former Gujarat chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela told me. He added that the authoritarian manner in which the government and the party are run “is not what we aspired for when I was in the RSS. I knew Shah’s character, conspiring and destroying opponents by any means possible from the time he joined the party.”

Sanjay Joshi, an RSS pracharak who had orchestrated Keshubhai Patel’s 1998 election victory, was booted out of the state and sent to Delhi, just as Modi had been five years before. Patel, Vaghela and Suresh Mehta all left the party at various points. Haren Pandya, at one time a plausible political rival to Modi, was shot dead in his car in 2003; the crime remains unsolved.

Poornima Joshi  is a former Caravan staff writer, and now the political editor of the Hindu Business Line.

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