Finally fabric of Congress’s ‘secular’ and BJP’s ‘nationalism’ mingled in J&K. A day after Congress minister in Omar Abdullah’s cabinet, Sham Lal Sharma pitched for a Hindu chief minister for the state, it was BJP’s “modern day Chanakya and master strategist” (accused of orchestrating two fake police encounters in Gujarat) asserting to install first Hindu chief minister in Jammu and Kashmir. Amit Shah who started his political career as a leader of RSS’s student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in 1983 has already made it clear that “making a BJP government in J&K is my dream”.
A 50-year-old Shah is PM Modi’s close aide, who rose to national prominence after his ‘sweep strategy’ in UP which later cleared decks for him to be the BJP president. It was Shah who focused on building Modi’s ‘larger-than-life’ image as a strong leader.
Recently after inducting Kashmiri Pandit Moti Kaul (President of the All India Kashmiri Samaj) into the BJP, Shah, who has major say in Modi government said that BJP wants to devote all its energy on winning J&K.
A son of Mumbai’s well-to-do family, Shah formally became a RSS swyamsevak (volunteer) during his college days. He first met Modi in 1982 in the Ahmadabad RSS circles. And over the years, the duo’s political bond only grew strong. During Modi’s twelve-year tenure as the Gujarat CM, Shah emerged as one of the most powerful leaders in Gujarat, who at one time held twelve portfolios.
Now, Shah wants to focus on Kashmir by eyeing on the areas where people comply with poll boycott calls of separatists and refrain from voting, and encourage pandits to vote.
Shah, however, is not a ‘clean’ man. He is accused for orchestrating ‘mass murder’ of Muslims. In 2010, soon after being booked for the extrajudicial killings of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, Shah’s fellow ministers criticized him as an “autocratic person”. In September 2012, the Supreme Court granted him bail.
After Modi became BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Shah’s influence also increased in the party. As an “excellent election campaign manager” he was given charge of Uttar Pradesh. Shah took advantage of the OBC vote bank’s displeasure with the UP government’s decision to create 4.5% reservation for the minorities within the 27% OBC quota. Shah convinced Modi to utilize RSS volunteers for grassroots campaigning, which proved highly beneficial for BJP.
Now eyeing again to cash a minority vote-bank in different space and time, Shah is now looking at forging different kinds of tactical understandings with some of the smaller regional players in Jammu and Kashmir. Given the electoral miracle that Shah was able to pull off in Uttar Pradesh and considering how seriously he is pushing “Mission Kashmir”, many believe that no one can afford to dismiss the BJP president’s plan as a mere pipe-dream. But Omar’s political Advisor Davendra Rana whose brother Jitendra Rana is MoS in Modi’s office, believes: Jammu and Kashmir is not Uttar Pradesh!
– Bilal Handoo