Amit Anilchandra Shah — master political strategist and Bharatiya Janata Party president — is indisputably the second most powerful man in India.
He is also Yahoo India’s ‘Personality of the Year 2017’.
However, many Yahoo users feel the right claimant to the title is Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who swept everyone else aside bagging 43% of the votes polled in an online survey on Yahoo. Even after more than three years in power, the prime minister’s popularity, instead of declining, has risen further. We bow to the popular mandate and accept that the prime minister is deserving of the ‘People’s Choice Award for the Personality of the Year 2017’.
Yet, it is Amit Shah’s indefatigable drive to ensure BJP’s success that has helped his boss-cum-mentor become electorally invincible. Well, almost.
If today Modi is freer than ever before to deliver on the promises he made to the electorate in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, more than a little credit goes to his most trusted lieutenant, Amit Shah.
From 2014 onwards, after almost every election, Shah has presented one state after another to Modi, strengthening the prime minister’s hand and the party’s position, and enlarging the BJP’s footprint across India.
While Modi’s charisma and mass appeal continue to remain unabated, it is owing to, in no small measure, Shah’s extraordinary organizational ability, leadership skills and micromanagement of cadres that the prime minister can largely focus on governance, policy decisions and providing guidance. Shah’s ability to manage political allies, break opposition unity, execute and implement the party’s plans, win over hostile opposition leaders, strengthen and expand the party’s empire, along with Modi’s magnetism and popularity, have resulted in the stupefying success that the BJP has tasted over the last three-and-a-half years.
When Shah was made the BJP President and led the party to an awe-inspiring victory in the 2014 general elections, many of his adversaries, both within and outside the party, scoffed bitterly at Shah’s triumph and called it a flash in the pan, a fluke, a result of the ‘Modi-wave’ phenomenon. And no sooner did the BJP lose in Delhi and Bihar than his opponents began to write his political obituary.
But success is the best revenge: the unprecedented victory that the BJP managed to stage in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, apart from wresting the governments in Manipur and Goa from under the Congress’s lazy and bitter nose, reaffirmed what most people had already doffed their hats to: Shah is a tactician extraordinaire, a ruthless election-winning machine and a tireless worker who has helped breathe new life and passion into the BJP.
His political opponents, probably rattled by his string of successes, continued to coin newer and increasingly more insulting epithets to describe him. It was Amit Shah’s activism versus the opposition parties’ slacktivism, and Shah has been the clear winner — at least for now.
Although he is the most successful BJP president in history, he hasn’t paused for a moment to sit on his laurels. Shah, a slave-driver, a disciplinarian and a workaholic, under Modi’s tutelage, has transformed the BJP from a lethargic and rudderless party into a nimble, resolute, election-winning colossus.
His ‘win-at-any-cost’ strategy has seen him employ different tactics in different states and rallies, while always keeping the twin planks of development and nationalism in the foreground.
Shah’s selection of ‘winnable’ candidates, his understanding of caste arithmetic and the pulse of the electorate, his unquestioning loyalty to the prime minister, the emphasis he lays on policy research and training, his brainchild on how to make BJP a truly pan-Indian party and his ability to stitch alliances before the opposition can cobble together an alternative make him a formidable foe.
He has always relied on his own strategy skills instead of on a group of sycophants and punsters-turned-speech writers. Unlike his political opponents in other parties, Shah shuns toadies and prefers to work without being surrounded by a claque of ‘yes men’.
He is the man behind Modi’s increasing hold over the country and the BJP. Without a tactician like Amit Shah on his side, even Prime Minister Modi might find it difficult to hold on to his high popularity.
If Shah delivers Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, too, to Modi, he would have helped the prime minister take a large stride towards the BJP’s ‘Mission 400’ for the 2019 general elections.
And for that reason, Amit Shah is the Yahoo ‘Personality of the Year 2017’.
People’s Choice Award for the Personality of the Year 2017
However, for those who disagree with this, here’s how the users voted for the People’s Choice Award for the Personality of the Year 2017:
- Narendra Modi: 43% votes
- Priyanka Chopra: 12% votes
- Virat Kohli: 9% votes
- Mithali Raj: 9% votes
- Rahul Gandhi: 8% votes
- Arvind Kejriwal: 6% votes
- Nirmala Sitharaman: 4% votes
- Mukesh Ambani: 4% votes
- Amit Shah: 3% votes
- Arun Jaitley: 1% votes
- Others: 1% votes