Narendra Modi and Amit Shah at the helm in government are reminiscent of a similar combination which helped the BJP from rags to riches. Can Modi-Shah match up?
The appointment of Amit Shah as Home minister may have left political circles divided, but there is an element of nostalgia for the Bharatiya Janata Party in this particular appointment. The BJP, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is back in power with a bang. Among the many surprises that the Prime Minister has sprung in his tenure of over five years now, Shah’s accession to the undisputed number two in the government’s pecking order is difficult to miss.
The formidable duo of Modi-Shah has ensured that the party which was once an ignorable factor in the country’s political landscape now stands tall with a mandate of 303 seats on its own. While the expectations ride high from the Modi-Shah combine, here is a bit of trivia to put the BJP’s plans into perspective.
The appointment of Amit Shah as the Home Minister brings back memories from two decades ago when the BJP was in power at the Centre under the leadership of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. While PM Vajpayee was an elected representative from Lucknow, his Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani was elected to the Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar, Gujarat. Cut to 2019 and the Modi-Shah duo has repeated just that.
Vajpayee won the election from Lucknow in 1998 and was appointed as Prime Minister, while his close aide Advani won from Gandhinagar and was appointed as the Home minister before his elevation as deputy Prime Minister. Like Modi-Shah, the Gujarat-UP combination of Vajpayee and Advani is revered in political circles for taking the BJP from rags to riches.
Two decades later, the BJP appears to have repeated its PM-HM formula with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a representative from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, appointing Shah, the MP from the same seat that Advani traditionally represented, as the Home Minister. Notably, it was Shah who replaced Advani as the party’s candidate from the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat.
Task cut out for Modi-Shah duo
The challenges before Modi-Shah are as omnipresent as Vajpayee-Advani. Their scale, however, is starkly different. While Vajpayee and Advani are credited with getting the BJP recognition that it can challenge the might of the Congress, Modi-Shah faces the challenge of expanding the party’s footprints in states which continue to reject the Modi brand of politics. The duo has its task cut out.
A majority in Rajya Sabha is crucial for the PM to push through reforms that it has promised time and again. It also bears heightened expectations of the party cadre to achieve victories in states where elections are due in the coming years. While UP and Maharashtra are states where the BJP would look to repeat its success of 2014, Bihar and West Bengal are the ones where the party will be hoping to better its tally and form a government. Much of the effectiveness of the Modi-Shah duo will be gauged by their electoral successes. That, perhaps, will be the true measure of their success.