Is Amit Shah losing the electoral plot?

The BJP national president has huge stakes on the outcome of both Gujarat and UP and will be the sole fall guy if things go south.

 |  4-minute read |   09-09-2016
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Upturned chairs, a wire mesh and tear gas shells provided a difficult reception to the BJP national president his own Gujarat citadel yesterday.

Posters of "General Dyer go back" were put up at a function in Surat as Shah was not even able to hold the mic for five minutes.

The alarm bells will now be clanging for the Uttar Pradesh elections as well.

Vijay Rupani as the new Gujarat CM after Anandiben Patel's ouster and not going with a CM face for UP were two solo Shah decisions which he absolutely insisted on. Prime Minister Narendra Modi let Shah's political smarts prevail.

The secret glee within some elements of the BJP at the humiliation faced by Shah nearly topped that of the opposition. Some BJP leaders, sore at Shah's style of functioning and perceived arrogance, were thrilled.

The comatose Margdarshak Mandal, the old-age home of the BJP, where LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Yashwant Sinha have been put to pasture, is expected to soon make noises about the state of party affairs in Gujarat and ask for a progress report from UP.

463293-pti-amit-shah_090916120355.jpg Prime Minister Narendra Modi let Amit Shah's political smarts prevail. (Photo credit: PTI) 

In UP, Shah is facing the toughest electoral battle of his life. Internecine warfare wages across factions as ambitious leaders such as six-term MP, the Mahant of the Gorakhnath Math, Yogi Adityanath, furious at not being declared the CM face has started a non-cooperation movement with Shah.

Sidelined old warhorses, such as Vinay Katiyar, the original "Bajrangi", is now making ominous noises about the hoary old chestnut of the Ram Mandir.

Varun Gandhi, whom Shah cannot stand, as the BJP's CM face is a prospect that Shah cannot countenance. Worse Rajnath Singh is resolute in his refusal to take charge of the campaign.

In Delhi and Bihar, Shah not trusting the local workers and leaders, imported his own team from Gujarat. He has already done the same for the battle of UP. But, with 72 MPs, a motley band of sadhus and sadhvis such as minister Jyoti Niranjan of "ramzade and haraamzade" fame, Shah is finding it tough going.

Shah has issued a diktat that all MPs must take responsibility of several assembly constituencies but is quite unsettled by the lack of response say sources.

The MPs feel they have little at stake since Shah only issues instructions without taking local feedback.

Even the issues to attack incumbent CM Akhilesh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati as well as freshly energetic Rahul Gandhi and Congress party are decided by Modi and Shah in Delhi.

This follows the debacle of expelled BJP vice president, Daya Shankar Singh, calling Mayawati a "prostitute".

Attacking the Congress for all of the country's problems now draws only yawns as a restive UP electorate wants to know what happened to the "achhe din" personally promised by Modi.

Shah is soldiering on valiantly going on about the "Italian spectacles of Rahul baba who cannot see the great work done by the Centre".

Shah visits Lucknow nearly once a week and is drawing up his usual meticulous booth management plans but sources say he appears fazed by the behaviour of the local leadership. Earlier he would have just ridden roughshod over them.

Shah has reached out to the RSS and asked for help and cadres to be the foot soldiers in this critical battle.

The grudge match with Prashant Kishor who he forced out of BJP and lost to in Bihar is also fraying his nerves.

Kishor's style of ambush headline management has the BJP nervous. Issues such as the supposed exodus of Hindus from Kairana are being quickly debunked ensuring that the BJP cannot get mileage of milking communal issues.

The entire opposition has ganged up against the BJP and the only attacks made are on Modi in the public meetings of all parties.

Shah was banking on upper caste support for the BJP but that once secure citadel, Gujarat, appears shaky. Brahmins are taking a relook at the Congress and BSP and the Thakurs are angry about Singh's expulsion.

At the moment UP is open but the BJP is no longer the frontrunner Shah had told Modi confidently that it was.

Shah has huge stakes on the outcome of both Gujarat and UP and with his keenness to be the sole authority will also be the sole fall guy if things go south.

Also read - Why Rahul trading attacks only at Modi will benefit Congress in UP polls

Also read - NDA allies eye Uttar Pradesh turf, but is BJP willing to accommodate them?

Writer

Swati Chaturvedi Swati Chaturvedi @bainjal

The writer is a journalist.

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