India Today
Amit Shah BJP Election 2019 Narendra Modi Image Credit: India Today
Amit Shah BJP Election 2019 Narendra Modi Image Credit: India Today

Amit Shah's Big Test

From chief strategist to mass campaigner, the assembly polls have seen Amit Shah emerge as a crowd-puller in his own right. What does this mean in the BJP’s battle for the heartland?

Uday Mahurkar

Amit Shah stands behind a saffron pod­ium decorated with the party’s lotus sym­bol in Bhind, a town in Madhya Pradesh’s Chambal district. “Bharat mata ki jai!” he shouts. The audience echoes him. But the BJP president isn’t satisfied. “Kya bhai, Chambal ka paani aise dheere bolta hai kya (Does the water of Chambal speak so low)?” he asks. The crowd’s Bharat mata ki jai roar grows louder. Shah begins his speech.

The rally in Bhind is one of over 80 public meetings and roadshows in the five poll-bound states that Shah has addressed in the past two months, a vast majority in MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. This, as his partymen will tell you, is almost double the rallies Prime Minister Narendra Modi has addressed. It’s part of a deliberate strategy. The party doesn’t want their sta2r campaigner to be overexposed. It is a gap the party president is filling as he crisscrosses the state, soaking up the adulation from local party workers and giving his Z-plus security detail nightmares as they struggle to control the crowds. Shah has set a gruelling pace for himself. In four months, he has also had 34 interactive programmes in these states with farmers, youth, women intellectuals and other focus groups. He is also the first BJP chief to address rallies in small towns such as Narwar, Bhind, Morena and Katni.

On the campaign trail, he take jibes at opponents, contrasts the BJP

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