Amit Shah (right) has been made the Home Minister in PM Narendra Modi’s new cabinet.
BJP chief Amit Shah, for years the closest confidant and chief strategist of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will be the Home Minister in the new BJP-led government at the centre. The appointment makes Amit Shah, who masterminded the party’s landslide victory in elections this month, the de-facto Number 2 in the government.
The 54-year-old takes over the ministry from senior Rajnath Singh, 67, who has been given charge of the Ministry of Defence – a move that could be seen as a pared-down posting despite being within the “Big 4” grouping of Home, Finance, Defence and External Affairs.
Amit Shah, who has been PM Modi’s Home Minister during his tenure as Gujarat Chief Minister in the past, was the most notable inclusion in the government this time among 57 new and old ministers who were sworn in at a ceremony at the Rahstrapati Bhavan on Thursday.
He helped run a hugely successful campaign over the past six weeks to raise the BJP’s tally to 303 out of 545 seats in the Lok Sabha, up from 282 in 2014, despite losses in key state elections in December.
Both PM Modi and Amit Shah emerged from the cauldron of politics in their home state of Gujarat; The BJP chief made his debut in the lower house of parliament in elections this time, edging out party veteran LK Advani from the state’s Gandhinagar seat, which the senior leader had won for six times.
Having worked with PM Modi since the 1980s, Mr Shah himself has run 29 elections from municipal bodies to parliament and lost none. He travelled 1.5 lakh km to address 161 public rallies during the election, he said earlier this month.
One of his stand-out lines on the campaign trail was his fierce attack on illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. “The illegal immigrants are like termites. They are eating the grain that should go to the poor, they are taking our jobs,” he had said.
With his new appointment, Mr Shah will decide the agenda on security, immigration and other key national issues. His biggest challenges are likely to be the Maoist insurgency, terrorism and the Kashmir.
In recent years, Mr Shah’s crowning achievement was the spectacular win in Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 elections that saw the BJP sweep 72 of the 80 seats in India’s most decisive state. This time, he fronted the BJP’s efforts in Bengal – considered impenetrable for the BJP for years – to equally stunning effect.
Often the focal point of opposition attacks on PM Modi, Mr Shah was discharged in 2014 in a case involving the extra-judicial killing of Muslims accused of terrorism when he was home minister of Gujarat.
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