LS Polls: Amit is ‘Shah’ of Modi’s historic second term win
New Delhi, May 23 (IANS): Prime Minister Narendra Modi might be the man of the moment for winning the historic second term but it is Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah who is being hailed, even by the rivals, as the man behind the moment.
“Time for Congress to get an Amit Shah,” tweeted People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and BJP’s friend turned foe.
Omar Abdullah, another former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and a bitter critic of the BJP, congratulated Modi and Shah for putting together a winning alliance and running a “very professional campaign”.
Shah’s election management has become part of India’s political folklore — an image that has been resurrected after the BJP’s loss in three north Indian states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh less than six months ago.
The BJP now has swept the Lok Sabha polls in all these three states staging an emphatic comeback restoring Amit Shah’s winning streak and reconfirming the title of master strategist.
If 2014 mandate for Modi was eye-opening, the verdict in 2019 is jaw dropping.
Amit Shah was more than a backroom strategist in this election as he contested the Lok Sabha seat from Gandhinagar and his public appeal was next only to the Prime Minister.
Speculations are already rife in New Delhi’s political circles that he will play a bigger role in Modi 2.0 instead of only handling the party affairs. If he gets a cabinet berth, it will be one of the four top portfolios of Foreign, Home, Finance and Defence.
With Foreign, Home and Finance being held by BJP’s senior leaders Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley — all three have handled their tasks well — the fourth slot of Defence Ministry, currently held by Nirmala Sitharaman, make Amit Shah a serious contender.
At Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first appearance in a press conference at the end of campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls, Amit Shah took all the questions, a clear indication of command and control set up in the BJP.
Even the Prime Minister chose to let Amit Shah hold the stage in his presence.
The BJP had planned for the 2019 much ahead of its rivals. Shah ordered a scientific evaluation of 120 seats the party had lost in 2014. Special focus was made on seven states (Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Assam, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and West Bengal) where the party was weak along with the Northeastern states.
The results in West Bengal, Odisha and the Northeast show that the BJP’s strategy worked perfectly as the party made impressive gains in these new territories.
Under his leadership, the BJP registered emphatic victories in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Tripura. The party also lost in Bihar, Delhi and Punjab apart from Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
A glimpse of Amit Shah’s tenure as the party president is given on his home page where a detailed report card is given about his programmes, plans, travels and strategy signalling the emphasis on details.
The strict dos and don’t for the party functionaries include restrictions on the use of private jets other than election campaigns and stays in expensive five star hotels with the preference for state guest houses only.
Regional parties in WB, AP, Odisha, TN, Telangana resist saffron surge
Regional parties from West Bengal, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have somehow managed to hold on to their turfs, bucking the trend of a nationwide surge of the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.
The DMK appears to be sweeping Tamil Nadu and is set to bag 23 of the 23 seats in the state it contested. Five BJP Lok Sabha candidates in the state, including Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan, appeared set for a crushing defeat, trailing by over 2.5 lakh votes.
Radhakrishnan had won from Kanyakumari in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, defeating his nearest rival Vasanthakumar by 1,28,662 votes.
Tamil Nadu BJP chief Tamilisai Soundararajan too is set to bite the dust in the port city of Tuticorin since the margin between her and the DMK candidate Kanimozhi has jumped to over 3.40 lakh votes.
Senior BJP leader H Raja, known for his controversial remarks is behind Congress candidate Karti Chidambaram by a margin of over three lakh ballots in Sivaganga constituency.
DMK’s ally Congress appears set to win eight, IUML one and CPI (M) and CPI two each. Besides, MDMK, VCK and KMDK and IJK had contested one seat each on the DMK symbol.
In Telangana too, it seems to be a sweep for the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) which has already won five of the 17 seats in the state and are leading in four more. The BJP in comparison has won one seat and is leading in other three.
In Andhra Pradesh, the Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRC) is ahead in 22 seats of the state’s 25 seats, ahead of the Telugu Desam Party which is leading in the other three.
In West Bengal, the Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress (TMC) has won six seats and is leading in 16 more, but the BJP has made significant inroads into the state by increasing its tally from the present two to potentially 18 seats, according to the latest trends. In Odisha, Naveen Patnaik led Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is leading in 13 seats, while the BJP is ahead in eight, according to latest trends. However, the saffron party appeared set for major gains in the state where they had won only one Lok Sabha seat in 2014.
No Congress MP in 18 states/UTs, half-a-dozen ex-CMs bite dust
If one drives from Jammu and Kashmir to Tamil Nadu, one will not find a Congress MP in half-a-dozen of states. The party has scored a nil in 18 states and union territories in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress losers include eight chief ministers and the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha.
Among the big states, there are zero Congress MPs in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Odisha. The smaller states which will not send a single Congress MP are: Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Uttarakhand. Apart from these, the Congress has no presence in Andaman and Nicobar, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura.
The Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, lost from Kalaburgi in Karnataka. The party had fielded several former CMs in Lok Sabha battle and all of them lost. The list includes former Delhi CM Shiela Dikshit from North East Delhi, former Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijay Singh from Bhopal, former Maharashtra chief ministers Ashok Chavan from Nanded and Sushil Kumar Shinde from Solapur, former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat from Nainital, former Meghalaya CM Mukul Sangma from Tura, former Haryana CM Bhupinder Hooda from Sonepat and Verrappa Moily from Chikkballur in Karnataka.
Barring Kerala where Congress won 15 seats, the party has not reached double figures, the closes being eight each in Punjab and Tamil Nadu. The party’s tally could not reach or surpass 2 in Bihar, Jharkhand, Telangana, MP, Maharashtra and Karnataka among big states. Its all-India tally is likely to remain below 50 at 49. This is the second successive Lok Sabha polls when the party got less than 50. In 2014, the Congress had won 44 seats.