BJP’s unprecedented success could not have been possible without the coordination between Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Two peas of the same pod, they are often regarded as the formidable duo of Indian politics. Their harmonious relationship is something that just cannot grow overnight and has been developed over the course of many decades. Their magic has been visible throughout PM Modi’s Prime Ministerial tenure and again when it led to a stunning victory in the Lok Sabha elections.
The saga of this deep friendship began back in 1982, when Amit Shah was a 17 year old boy, and was working as an RSS swayamsevak during his college days in Ahmedabad. At that time, Modi, aged 32 was an RSS pracharak, working as in-charge of youth activities in the city. Their association is over 37 years old. The duo drew closer in 1984 when Modi became the Ahmedabad district pracharak. Shah’s logical understanding of current issues during the brainstorming sessions of the Sangh parivar coupled with his ideological commitment really impressed Narendra Modi. In fact, Modi was so close to him that when the late RSS Sarsanghchalak Balasaheb Deoras asked Modi to join the BJP, Shah was one of the few people with whom Modi shared his apprehensions about the proposed role. No doubt due to Shah’s encouragement, Modi joined BJP in 1985 and Amit Shah soon followed suit in 1986. By this time, Modi was a full-time organisation secretary of the Gujarat BJP unit and began grooming Amit Shah for political tasks such as booth management during polls due to his political acumen and strategic thinking.
By 1995, Shah and Modi’s association was playing a major role in state politics. Even though BJP had managed to defeat Congress in 1995 assembly elections, Congress still wielded considerable power at the grassroot level. Amit Shah and Modi worked towards changing this disequilibrium, in favor of BJP. In this, they devised strategies and dealt with Congress’ influence over rural Gujarat, sports bodies and powerful cooperatives.
Their deep friendship crossed the borders of pure political affiliations and when Modi fell out with former Gujarat CM Keshubhai Patel in 1996, Shah stayed with him. In 1997, Modi lobbied to get Shah a BJP ticket for the Gujarat Legislative Assembly by-election in Sarkhej, which he was successful at, leading to Shah becoming an MLA. He retained his seat in the 1998 Assembly elections.
In 2001, when Narendra Modi was elected the CM of Gujarat by the BJP, Amit Shah emerged as one of the most powerful leaders in Gujarat. He was given multiple portfolios in the Modi government, including, Home, Law and Justice, Gram Rakshak Dal, Prison, Civil Defence, Prohibition, Excise, Transport, Home Guards, Border Security, Police Housing, and Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs. Home is usually a portfolio that chief ministers like to have a firm grip over, but in this case, Narendra Modi had utmost trust in Amit Shah. Together, the duo gradually sidelined their political rivals.
Ahead of the 2014 elections, Shah had been the general secretary of UP and under his guidance and campaigning, coupled by the Modi wave; the party had won 73 out of 80 seats in the state. Apart from UP, Shah had a vital role to play at the national level in Congress’ huge electoral failure of them securing 44 seats, an all-time low and BJP securing a majority on its own, becoming the first party in over 3 decades to do so. By this time, he had been dubbed as the “modern-day Chanakya and master strategist”. These unprecedented electoral results coupled with the complimentary relationship that Shah and Modi share were the reasons as to why Shah was made the party president in 2014 after Modi was elected the Prime Minister of the country.
The two have worked side by side since then and their political outcomes were so successful that Amit Shah was re-elected as the party president in 2016. The duo has delivered 14 states to the BJP, by either winning the elections or forming governments through alliances. On all matters regarding public-policy and governance, Modi has sought Shah’s advice, who has guided him accordingly, working together as a team.
Narendra Modi and Amit Shah coming together has been perhaps one of the epoch-making events of Indian politics. It is often said that Modi is the visionary and Shah the implementer. More than friendship, Amit Shah looks up at Narendra Modi, treating him with the utmost respect. Through these years, he has been a loyal disciple to Modi, understanding and picking from his brain. His quick learning and penchant to imbibe from Modi has come to good use for the government. The perfect sync, with which Modi and Shah operate, is a result of decades of understanding and has not grown overnight. Not only has their coordination perfected Modi’s first tenure but have also led to a 2nd BJP victory with an even bigger mandate, something that has never happened with a non- Congress party. Shah’s understanding of Modi’s brain goes beyond governance and politics. Which is why Amit Shah has been indispensable to the Modi government.