Intro: No worker can ever dare to mislead Amit Shah, he gets caught instantaneously. At times, Shah speaks in strong terms but is very clean.
While I was busy in the activities of North-East cell in New Delhi, Narendra Bhai Modi one day called me and asked whether I could go to Gujarat and work for elections. I agreed to his proposal and accordingly was entrusted with the responsibility to work in Dahod district of Gujarat. Dahod is tribal dominated district with BJP having one seat and Congress five; the MP also belonged to the Congress. May be because of this Modiji might have sent me there six months ahead of polls. Amit Bhai was in Delhi then as he was not permitted to contest elections by the court. Dahod happened to be his area. He used to be constantly in touch with the workers there though he was confined to Delhi. Through the workers in Dahod that he came to know about me. But I did not have chance to meet him in persons till then.
The Supreme Court lifted the ban on Amit Shah giving a major relief to Modiji. We need to win the 2012 elections with good margins and for that Modiji needed colleagues like Amit Bhai. Immediately after he got the permission, Amit Bhai reached Dahod and assumed the responsibility of the election campaigning. I met him during one such meeting. I introduced myself to a pleasant surprise from him. “I know about you, Sunil”. Please join me for the breakfast tomorrow. We need to talk,” he politely asked me.
We met at the appointed hour. Amit Bhai lives in a one BHK house, sits in his verandah and meets 200-250 visitors in a day. He gets to the subject straight without any paraphernalia. If the work is within his limits he immediately instructs his secretary to note the details and pursue the work. If it is not so, he frankly tells the visitor that it cannot be done because it is illegal and he would not do such work neither would he allow anyone to do it. This straightforwardness is his distinctive quality.
Amit Bhai though born with a silver spoon in his mouth, lives very in a very style. His grandfather had paid five crore tax in 1952! This is enough to perceive how rich his family is! Born as the only son in the family Amit Bhai came to Vadodara for education and shared a hostel room with his friend. His friend used to go to RSS shakha daily. One day he asked Amit to accompany him to shakha which he did and it was here he met Narendra Bhai who was then Vadodara Mahanagar Pracharak. He got introduced with Amit thoroughly and next day went to his hostel to share luch with him. This meeting proved fruitful for Amit Bhai who accepted Narendra Modi as his mentor and Guru.
Amit was taking interest in RSS work, But Narendra Bhai wanted him to work in the ABVP and later in BJYM. While doing so Amit Bhai wanted to engage himself in business and earn money. He told Modi about this who granted permission to him but with a rider that he would come back to politics. He did business for some time, earned profits and again plunged himself in active politics as per his guru’s instructions.
He got elected to State Assembly from Narayanpura Assembly seat and became a minister in Gujarat cabinet. He implemented many a schemes during his tenure. Amit Bhai is instrumental for many welfare schemes in tribal areas of Gujarat. He developed the tribal belt from Umbargaon to Ambaji. He was also associated with Dahod. He established himself as an efficient minister.
But this success did not deter him from his simple living style. He has a matured political vision. I learnt so many things in politics from him. I learnt the basic lessons of how one should behave in politics from the discussions with him. The party was selecting candidates in Dahod district. Modiji had told me that my opinion in selection would be held final as it would be without any bias. Narendra Bhai had invented a novel idea. He used to call all the aspirants and ask him to tell why he should be selected. At the same time the probable candidate would vouch to work for the official candidate of the party if he is not selected.
In case of one assembly seat this process was on. Son of a deceased MLA Ramesh Katara came to the dais and pleaded for his candidature but forgot to reassure his help to the official candiadate. I reminded him but he did not care. I got angry and decided not to recommend his name. I told this to Amit Bhai. He asked me who would win the election. “Of course, Katara”, I replied. “Then give him the ticket”, he told me. Ramesh Katara won the election though with a thin margin. Then I learnt my first lesson that while deciding candidature one has to keep in mind the winning ability of the individual.
Another case is related to Garmara assembly seat. Here one lady Chandrikaben of Bhil community was a strong contender from the opposition. There was one Mahindraben of Patelia community but the number of Bhills was more than Patelia community. We wanted to give party ticket to a woman member but could not identify anyone in Dahod. I thought Mahindraben had support among the Bhill also so I told Amit Bhai that we can give ticket to her. He expressed his apprehension but allowed me to do so. I was proved wrong with the defeat of Mahidraben who suffered defeat by 45,000 votes against Chandrikaben.
We won three seats in Dahod much to the delight of Narendra Modi and Amit Bhai. He became general secretary later. We used to meet casually and discuss various issues. People used to come to meet him whom he would ask to put their views in short and without any preamble. In one case a worker was telling about him when Amit Bhai interrupted him and asked him to do some introspection and meet those who had some negative impressions about him and then come to me. I was surprised and told him that he should have been the national president of the party. Later, when I enquired about the same worker, Amit Bhai told me that he met him again. But I did contact those office-bearers to whom I had asked him to meet and cross-checked the facts.
He meets around 700-800 visitors in a day from 1 PM to 1 AM daily. This satisfied the block level workers that he could meet such a top party leader. He listens to each and every worker though for a short time, but this interaction gave him the complete idea of the strength of the party. This understanding led to winning maximum seats in the Lok Sabha. When I countered him, he said this was necessary to build the party organisation and that the intention was not only to win the elections.
Once a probable candidate from UP’s flood hit area came to plead for his case. Amit Bhai got angry with him. “There people are suffering due to floods and what you are doing here”? He asked him. He replied that he would be touring the flood affected areas on Sunday. Amit Bhai said “what is it use of going there once the flood recedes. You should be there when there is a need. Our personal works can wait.
Amit Bhai also has his fingers on the nerves of the voters. Now he is the party president. He has his own independent personality. He is amongst the miniscule minority of leaders who can tell Narendra hai the truth without fear. This is the quality that distinguishes Amit Bhai from other leaders of BJP. Under his leadership there will be perfect balance between the party and the government.
-Sunil Deodhar (The writer is National Convener North-East Sampark Cell, BJP)