It is said that BJP president Amit Shah is always on an election mode. The BJP's recent electoral successes have proved his efficacy. Yes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the vote-catcher, but it is Shah’s astuteness and fiendish moves that help the BJP during crucial moments—more so, after the votes are counted.
Immediately after the results were out in Karnataka, and as one knew that the BJP was falling short of majority, social media was full with messages that said Shah has started his work. One meme read—‘This is Amit Shah. My work starts after counting is finished. Wait and watch.’
Said a BJP leader, on reasons of anonymity, “Many central BJP leaders did not want the party to form the government in a hurry in Karnataka. They felt it will give the impression that the party was power-hungry. But Shah and [B.S.] Yeddyurappa wanted to form the government, come what may.”
Shah’s shrewdness have perturbed many opposition leaders. After Yeddyurappa took oath as Karnataka chief minister, the otherwise media-shy Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, tweeted: “Today is a sad day for Indian democracy. There should be a judicial review of Karnataka governor’s decision to invite the BJP to form the government.”
V. Muraleedharan, BJP's Rajya Sabha MP from Kerala, told THE WEEK that Congress and Communist leaders in Kerala have started panicking, as they know that they are next in line. “The BJP cadre in Kerala has got aggressive after the victory in Karnataka. People in Kerala are keen to see the BJP come to power, like in Karnataka. We will win the byelection in Chengannur in Kerala [on May 28].”
When he took over as party president, Shah had vowed to expand the party's base to every nook and cranny of the country. Extremely fond of reading political disquisitions, Shah is said to have read Chanakya's Arthashastra at nine. He is known to be arrogant and secretive, and strictly believes that a favourable outcome of any finding or decision depends on its secrecy. He has never hesitated in taking the RSS's help. The party has acknowledged RSS’s role in the election victory in Karnataka.
Said Union Minister Sadananda Gowda to THE WEEK: “The BJP is confident of winning the floor test in Karnataka. We want to thank the people of Karnataka for bringing us to power. Right now, as I speak, I am visiting the houses of the party candidates who lost in the election.”
The opposition leaders, expectedly, are not too impressed with Shah. RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav said the BJP president has only one formula—horse-trading or sending agencies like the CBI and the ED behind MLAs of other parties. He cited the BJP’s Karnataka rationality—of the single largest party forming the government—to stake claim to form government in Bihar. The RJD is the single largest party in Bihar with 80 seats but is in opposition. “If we are not united today, then it was Bihar yesterday, Karnataka today, can be Madhya Pradesh or Rajasthan tomorrow,” Yadav said.
People of the country should take note of the level to which Shah and the BJP leaders have stooped, said K.C. Venugopal, Lok Sabha MP of the Congress and the party in-charge in Karnataka, to THE WEEK. “We are completely upset with the way the governor dealt with us. He promised us that he will help us form the government, and then immediately invited Yeddyurappa. He will be the chief minister for a day. The Congress-JD(S) combine will form the government in Karnataka.”
There are talks that Venugopal could keep the Congress MLAs at a resort in Alappuzha, his constituency. “No final decision has been taken on it yet. BJP leaders like G. Janardhana Reddy are openly talking to our MLAs and offering each of them Rs 75 crore shamelessly. We need to do something,” he said.
JD(S)’s Rajya Sabha MP D. Kupendra Reddy told THE WEEK that his MLAs are not afraid of the BJP. “Not a single MLA from the JD(S) will go to the BJP, that much I am sure. We are not planning to take them to any resort. We trust our MLAs,” he said.