Three-fourth majority to the NDA in Uttar Pradesh – the immediate tendency would be to give all credit to Narendra Modi, the charismatic Prime Minister of India who sways public audiences like no one else. Let me however point to the real hero of the Hindutva brigade – Amit Shah. He was the quintessential army general, making ruthless decisions on who would fight where, the speeches and rallies that would be organized and the issues that would be discussed. This time around, he was also fighting on the front, making one aggressive speech after another, even as he mobilized his forces drawn from all parties, even at the last moment.
It is Amit Shah who has crafted the electoral strategy in the two states that the BJP has won, UP and Uttarakhand. He did not go to Goa, neither to Manipur. Amit Shah avoided any reference to Punjab, as if there was never any election there. Even before the campaigning started, Amit Shah had ensured that Amar Singh was well placed to allegedly drive a wedge between a son and his father. Mayawati suddenly got to know that her sibling could go to jail for some funds he had mishandled. People like N D Tiwari and Rita Bahuguna were invited and felicitated.
Shah ensured that his star campaigner addressed rallies only in the UP – UK belt. He gave out tickets to only those people he knew were going to win. He did not succumb to that pseudo secular clamor for having a token Muslim candidate anywhere. The entire Hindu Vs Muslim campaign would have got punctured if he got swayed by this rather persuasive sabka saath slogan touted by Rajnath Singh and even Uma Bharti. Poor Mukhtar Naqvi too made a meek complaint to that effect but recovered quickly to declare that even if the BJP does not put up a Muslim candidate it remains a great nationalist party.
Look at the profile of the two states he has won the huge majorities in. Both are states where there are enough Muslims to point fingers at, to demonize. Goa and Punjab have miniscule Muslim populations. Manipir has 8 per cent but not enough to matter. The posturing in these states could not be a negative fear mongering one. It had to be economic development, law and order and employment. So ignore these states, even of one of them is going to be a blot on the career and popularity of your own Defense Minister.
What does Amit Shah then do to the campaign strategy? So what if the Prime Minister is besotted with demonetization. His speeches, decided his President, should steer clear of ay thing to do with note bandhi. He also quickly realized that the surgical strike issue had become muddied and that there was enough confusion about whether anything like that even happened. It was also clear that it did not have much impact in any case.We are “proud of our army” slogan was not selling. The OROP issue had been badly handled.
So abandon any reference to these nationalist slogans. Just focus on the Hindu issues. Go back in time and get the Ram mandir promise back. Talk of how laptops were distributed only to the Muslims. The Prime Minister declared that the SP Congress is with the community that bombed the Kanpur train, read Muslims. He completely ignored his own police force that said after investigations that the 142 deaths were caused by poor safety and security on the tracks. For the elections what mattered was to paint a community as the villain. The PM then spoke of too many Qabrastans, his MP declared that everyone must be cremated, there should be no burials anymore.
In Amit Shah’s stellar career, the only blots that remain are Delhi and Bihar. I am sure he has still not figured what went wrong there. Both states had Muslim populations that could be targeted. Pakistan could be involved and was. However, the ploy failed badly. But to his credit, Shah did not allow these debacles to alter his time tested strategy. His single minded belief in the Gujarat model that demonizes Muslims and threatens the Hindu population with Pakistan has worked brilliantly everywhere.
The promise of a Ram Mandir lurks as an undertext in the manifesto and the speeches made. The idea is to promote the majority OBC populations, give them special statuses, but also galvanise Hindu pride among the others. So the Jats, with all their seething anger against Khattar, still vote for Modi. The Yadavs claim Akhilesh as their youth icon, but again vote Modi, so do the Dalits, who are proud of what Mayawati has done for them. The Muslim voter, with a grand total of 18 per cent votes in UP and 14% in Uttarakhand, is the only renegade that votes for the SP Congress and BSP.
Amit Shah is now the undisputed king of electioneering. Pretenders like Kishore and Madhav can go back to where they came from. Ram Madhav who was emerging as a rival to Shah, gave Modi the Kashmir headache by winning the state with the PDP and now has a constant battle with Pandits, the RSS, the nationalists and the separatists. Amit Shah has given his sahib clear mandates, both at the center and now in the state that matters. Its time his efforts are rewarded… Amit Shah for CM is the new slogan for UP.