Amit Shah never stops campaigning. On March 10, two days after polling had ended in Uttar Pradesh, and hours before the results were to arrive, the BJP president was in Gujarat to give a pep talk to party workers. Assembly elections in his home state are due in December, and he wanted them to be well-prepared. His next mission was on.
Shah has always been the man with the plan. He had begun making moves to win Uttar Pradesh as early as October 2014, when the BJP scored thumping victories in the Maharashtra and Haryana assembly polls. Less than a week after those results, he sent Om Prakash Mathur, the architect of the BJP’s victory in Maharashtra, to Lucknow. Mathur took charge of the party affairs in UP and met Sunil Bansal, who was Shah’s apprentice in the Lok Sabha elections held just months before.
The two bachelors made a formidable team. Both Mathur, then 62, and Bansal, 44, had earned their stripes as RSS pracharaks in Rajasthan. Mathur was close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and had known him since the days they were pracharaks. He was BJP general secretary in charge of Gujarat when Modi became chief minister in 2002.
Bansal was general secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad in Rajasthan before he moved to Uttar Pradesh to assist Shah to oversee Lok Sabha polls. Always clad in kurtapyjama and Nehru jacket, with a tilak on his forehead, Bansal made his mark with his