Going from manager Shah to successor Shah

Amit Shah

Whether you regard August 5, 2019 — the day India moved to scrap Articles 370 and 35A and reorganise J&K — as historic or regard it as India’s darkest day, there are no two ways about who carried it.

It was not BJP mascot Prime Minister Narendra Modi but his trusted deputy, Amit Shah, who was the face of the regime’s biggest and boldest political gambit yet.

While it was in Modi’s name that the decision was taken, it was Shah, the Union home minister, who had his kurta sleeves rolled up and hands dirty with the constitutional-legal-security challenge.

In fact, given the significance of the move, today’s developments could serve as the perfect scaffolding for his rise as the face of the party and its governments in the post-Modi era. What is more, the PM’s decision to let Shah front the move to ‘integrate Kashmir into India’ has a ready-made parallel in the figure of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India’s first home minister, also known as the man who ‘unified’ India in the aftermath of Independence. Of course, Shah's political rule book is far more, let's just say, unorthodox, compared to Patel's.

The Kashmir operation was well in keeping with Shah’s tough-as-nails image from the politically risky decision to cancel the Amarnath yatra to locking down an entire state by force to ensure that nothing came between the government and today's 'monumental occasion'.

In his reply to the discussion on the Bill he had introduced in Rajya Sabha, Shah made it clear that he saw Article 370 as the single biggest hurdle to normalcy in J&K. Soon there will be more schools for kids, more jobs for the youth, and all Indians, regardless of who they are, will be able to enjoy a vacation on the Dal lake, he said wrapping up the debate.

Shah has so far been seen as an election strategist and political manager par excellence but after today many in India will seem him as a politician who can solve its most vexed problems, even if that means through means that are not entirely acceptable to all. 

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