November 2015 \ Cover Story \ Cover Story
Political Mastermind

The German philosopher could well have been speaking of Amit Shah, one of India’s finest and fertile political minds, an unrivalled game-changer who knows what it takes to play hardball, and mostly win

By Sayantan Chakravarty
  • Mr Amit Shah addresses a rally in Bhagalpur, Bihar

Talent hits a target no one else can hit, Genius hits a target no one else can see

—Arthur Schopenhauer

Absolutely no one had expected the BJP—then still not quite the world’s largest political party—to sweep the state of Uttar Pradesh at the general elections in May 2014. While even the most optimist BJP politicians were hesitating to forecast victory at more than 45 - 50 of the 80 Parliamentary seats in U.P, the media opinion polls also heightened skepticism about the BJP’s prospects in India’s largest state. So when BJP in one breath swept the state with 71 seats, and two allies took the tally up to a history-making 73, not even the party’s staunchest critics could find any words, excuses, or reasons. Far too many people remained dumbfounded, shell-shocked and were made to eat their words over and over again. Inside television studios, regular BJP critics who get ample opportunities to run their throats hoarse during drawn out slanging contests, were faltering for words—a rare sight. Genius and talent had combined to hit a target that no one else had seen. The BJP, in the heart of the Hindi heartland, had made history.

After the excitement of BJP’s extraordinary victory at the Parliamentary elections, and its stupendous performance at U.P. hit home, all attention turned to the genius himself, Mr Amit Shah. The man had pulled off a monumental victory, a bit like India’s cricket openers inflicting the opposition with a 10 wicket drubbing when a cup is at stake. Pundits and analysts alike could suddenly see no more beyond the versatile and smiling mastermind, Amit Shah. They bent backwards to announce his big time arrival on the Indian political scene. Mr Shah had broken the back of the opposition in U.P. (which in operational terms he managed very closely), first by decimating the ruling Samajwadi Party, and then by near obliteration of the Congress from a state that has given the party several Prime Ministers. Of course Mr Shah could not have done this without a winning Prime Minister like Mr Narendra Modi who spread his infinite charm on the electorate wherever and whenever he campaigned.