By Sushil Kutty
You can say, ‘What the duck?’ and stop reading right here. Or, take the excuse “Today – Dec. 21, 2020 – is the ‘Great Conjunction’ and ‘Winter Solstice’ rolled into one” and walk away. But think of the consequences: Do you fancy getting caught in a dark alley with ‘him’ coming at you? A little knowledge can boomerang. But enough of it could save lives!
Especially when it’s ‘Amit Anilchandra Shah’ we’re talking of. Getting to know the Union Home Minister is more than General Knowledge. Narendra Modi’s ‘right-hand’ man. Major-domo, so to speak – Narendra Modi proposes, Amit Shah disposes! You cannot miss him. Not in a picture. Never, when he’s there in person. In the vicinity. Say within a radius of 200 metres. His girth is distinguishable. And he’s got the mug of a tug-of-war!
The telltale beard. Salt and pepper. And you have the man nailed. If, just in case, watch for the click of thumb and finger. See figures right and left spring to – Achtung! Shah instils apprehension. He distils dislike, too. Pick a word and you’ll come up with ‘sinister.’ But seat the man in a lit room. Full of people. Like at an India Today TV ‘India Conclave’ and Amit Shah’s sunny-side up is there for all to see!
Charming. Don’t, says the journalist. Don’t get the spirits up. Top journos, who thought they had Narendra Modi cornered because they thought they had Amit Shah cornered, have lived to write on disappointment! Rana Ayyub and Rajdeep Sardesai. Barkha Dutt. They were left feeling less than comfortable in Shah’s presence. Uncomfortable!
Sardesai, for instance. He is a chronicler of men, and matters, even if not all of it right. And, if Rajdeep idles around certain men, then, he’s got reason. Once, “made to sit on the floor of a bus” right next to Narendra Modi seated in his seat on the front row, Rajdeep asked a question about Amit Shah and Modi answered, only to allegedly later call Rajdeep and to “allegedly” tell Rajdeep not to mention what “I (Modi) told you about Amit!”
Reading Chapter 2 of Rajdeep’s book ‘2019 How Modi Won…,’ you get the distinct feeling that Rajdeep had come to the conclusion that Modi feared Shah! About Amit Shah, Sardesai writes: “It was this combative, controversial personality who was chosen as the president of the BJP in July 2014, within months of the party’s path-breaking Lok Sabha triumph.” Sardesai, who is not beyond fawning if the script demands, says Amit Shah is a “masterful election organizer.”
Another journalist Rana Ayyub made Amit Shah notoriously internationally famous. Sardesai says Amit Shah “thrived” on the Hindu-Muslim divide and Rana Ayyub was the ‘Hindu-Muslim divide!’ Author of the “ticked off by Supreme Court” ‘The Gujarat Files’, Ayyub wrote this about Shah in the Washington Post: “He is the second-most-powerful man in India. Many in the party call him the invisible prime minister. Shah is Modi’s shadow, loyal attack-dog, spokesman and campaign strategist.”
Rana Ayyub did not get dog-collared or dog-whistled for calling and picturizing Amit Shah as the loyal ‘attack dog of Modi.’ But then, the ‘Shah at the Centre’ was not the ‘Shah in the State.’ Then, when he lorded over a dozen portfolios in Modi’s Gujarat cabinet, Shah was prone to throw his weight around and Shah still carries a lot of weight – to date.
Controversies have dogged Amit Shah. He allegedly stood and watched Gujarat riot and Gujarat burn. He also allegedly “snooped” on a woman. And he was allegedly behind a highway shootout with bodies strewn about. The fact of the matter is if Shah’s life story is written it will elicit this, “Hey, this is almost like it’s true!” The truth of the matter is, Shah makes for interesting reading and there’s enough in his life to pen a New York Times bestseller.
Shah’s electoral victories are the stuff of legend. It’s come to the point whether to laud the EVM or Amit Shah’s acumen and skills in getting hundreds of BJP cadres to manage booths and enthuse the grassroots. Shah won Modi not only almost all of UP’s Lok Sabha seats in 2014 and 2019, he also got his ‘idol and inspiration’ the Uttar Pradesh Assembly in 2017. Make no mistake, Amit Shah is, indeed, Modi’s untiring election juggernaut.
And just so that you don’t get swayed and believe him to be the “good guy with a halo”, know that Amit Shah is another name for ‘ruthless.’ He can ride roughshod and usually does. Whether it’s NRC and CAA or depicting Bangladeshi illegal immigrants as “ghuspetiyas” and “termites,” Amit Shah has stood in Parliament and struck off Article 370 like it was a rootless tree in a 250 km gale. Again, make no mistake, when the history of Kashmir will be written, Amit Shah’s name will spell fright through the pages and the ages.
Shah’s trysts with courts are another part of his life. He’s been in and out of courts and was for two years not allowed entry into Gujarat on the orders of a judge. For that he’s to date called ‘Tadipar’ in Social Media. The eerie part is that no matter what Shah does, he leaves an impression. Amit Shah went to Kerala and left an impression. He went to Mumbai and left an impression. He went to Uttar Pradesh and left an impression.
These days, he’s in and out of West Bengal, and you know he’s left a big-big impression. In Didi’s Bengal, Amit Shah is like the devil possessed. Wherever he goes, a whirlwind precedes and lingers long after he’s left. It’s as if Amit Shah has made it his life’s ambition to wipe Bengal’s slate clean with Mamata. And in so doing, not forget to empty Trinamool Congress of people of substance.
If it was anybody less durable and less formidable than Mamata Banerjee, that person/politician would have surrendered long ago – Achtung! Such has been Amit Shah’s assault on Didi’s turf. In the 2011 Assembly elections, Didi wiped the slate clean by driving the last nail in the Left’s coffin. Today, 10 years later, Amit Shah wants to play the role that Mamata did in 2011. For that, nothing is untouchable to him. He has many weapons including Brahmastra which Mamata lacks.
To round off, there’s so much to Amit Shah that it will take miles to sleep before we come to the end of the road. There are even people praising him turning a new leaf! Like when he said the response to the Tanishq ad was a little too much! And when he said Guv Koshiyari of Maharashtra should keep his tongue in check if not in the cheek!! The problem is while writing on and about Amit Anilchandra Shah, the pen should fly and the words should leap off the page in a flourish; and there should always be an eye on the lookout, make sure Amit Shah is not looking over your shoulder, looking at what you’re writing – for, this guy is not to be trifled with, sure. Achtung! (IPA Service)