Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah is likely to continue in his post after the process of organisational elections gets completed next month. Shah had taken over as the BJP chief when Rajnath Singh resigned, following his appointment as the Home Minister in the Narendra Modi government last year as per the one-man-one-post policy.
There has been intense speculation in political circles on whether Shah would get a full term especially after the BJP and its allies received a drubbing in the Bihar Assembly elections in November. Many leaders felt that Shah, who personally supervised the party’s preparation, had failed to understand the general mood and consequently devised strategies which led to the BJP’s poor showing.
The Margdarshak Mandal comprising senior leaders L.K. Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Shanta Kumar too had asked for accountability in the organisation and made a demand for responsibility to be fixed. Many party men were of the view that the RSS Sarsangchalak, Mohan Bhagwat’s comments on reservations before and during the polls had led to the debacle.
Sources said that the RSS, which at one point, wanted Shah to relinquish office at the end of his present term, has had a change of heart, probably because it does not want its chief to be blamed for the defeat along with him. Instead, it has reconciled to the idea of allowing Shah a full term. Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari, who were considered to be frontrunners for the post, have since expressed their desire to continue in the government instead.
According to well informed sources, the RSS has come to believe that the removal of Shah and his replacement by somebody else would lead to the creation of two power centres — one in the government headed by Narendra Modi and the second by the new president. However, Shah’s continuation and his good chemistry with Modi would ensure that perfect harmony between the government and the party would exist at all times. The Sangh hierarchy also does not want Shah to go back to Gujarat politics where a change of the Chief Minister is on cards ahead of the 2017 Assembly elections. It is expected that the present Chief Minister may make way for another Patel candidate, given that the Patidar agitation led by Hardik Patel has the potential of having an impact on the BJP’s vote bank in the state.
Sources said that Shah’s continuation as the party chief would allow Modi the freedom to bring about changes in his Council of Ministers next month. Some of those who may get dropped may be given party work, while a few in the organisation including some Chief Ministers may get a berth in the Union Cabinet. At least two members of the Council of Ministers are tipped to get gubernatorial assignments after they are dropped or asked to quit.
The Sangh is also of the view that the BJP is not expected to do too well in the Assembly polls due in 2016 as the party presence in the poll bound states is not sufficient to get it to power. If the BJP has a new president, he would needlessly get the flak for the poor showing for which he would not be responsible, while Shah may be able to take the losses in his stride.
Another reason why Shah has got unexpected support from all quarters is that in the opinion of the Sangh, the Congress would be further weakened next year and the BJP must not miss the opportunity of consolidating itself. By continuing with Shah, the top leadership would send a strong message to the cadre that the party must face its adversaries unitedly and a single defeat in a major Assembly poll should not demoralise the grassroots workers. The announcement regarding Shah’s continuation is likely to be made soon.