As Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s favourite colleague Amit Shah was elected unopposed the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) president for a second time, we list the top 10 challenges he is likely to face in his tenure of the next three years:
1. The RSS factor:
Shah has to show his strategic skills to limit the influence of BJP’s political patron Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on the party, at the same time remain in their good books.
“The cultural agenda pursued by RSS has also been a cause for embarrassment to the party and the government occasionally.
Hence, a certain amount of fine tuning is necessary so that good initiatives by the government don’t get overshadowed by controversial statements made by loose cannons,” reported DNA.
2. Make sure the party wins in UP:
With Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati and present UP chief minister and Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Akhilesh Yadav all set to lock horns for the 2017 state elections, Shah has to make sure the BJP makes its way to the throne in Lucknow bypassing the two local political giants.
“… he must marshal the party after a chastening 2015 that saw two high profile electoral defeats—in Delhi and Bihar—and work out a strategy for the five assembly elections coming up this year.
Most of these polls are tough sells for the BJP, and particularly troubling for the party leadership, because they precede 2017’s critical Uttar Pradesh elections,” said Livemint.
3. Show off the master plotter in him:
Not just UP, Shah will have to strengthen the party’s foothold in Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal as well.
“He will be looking to increase his party’s footprint in assembly elections due this year in Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal – BJP is likely to be a big player only in Assam,” reported The Times of India.
4. Empower regional leaders:
It’s perhaps time for Shah to hand over some power to the regional leaders during the poll battle.
“He also needs to go beyond micro-managing every election and start empowering regional leaders. In this way, the party can truly be different from the Congress, eventually moving away from a top-heavy high command culture,” said DNA.
5. Help Modi deliver on the economic front:
Shah will likely have to prove his organizational skills and guide the party through political turmoil and show his political rivals what makes him PM Modi’s most trusted aide.
“Modi’s economic evangelism has been undercut by protracted political struggles. How Shah guides the party through the upcoming trials will determine how much political space Modi has to deliver on the economic front,” reported Livemint.
6. Prepare the party for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections:
It will be within his tenure as the BJP chief that India will decide whether Modi will be given a second term to bring “achhe din” back or not. So he will play a crucial role in preparing the party for the general elections.
“With Shah in command for the next three years, he would have the responsibility of preparing the party for the next general election.
According to party sources, in all likelihood, he would continue as party president in 2019 as the party would not like a change in leadership just ahead of elections,” reported DNA.
7. Pacify BJP elders:
Media reports quoting party sources claimed BJP veterans, including party patriarch LK Advani, MM Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Shanta Kumar, are “not happy” with Shah getting a second term, especially after the party faced a new low during the Bihar polls. So Shah will have to win the confidence of party elders once again.
8. Collect more voter points for the party:
Shah will have to increase government-party coordination so that benefits of all government schemes reach the grassroots thereby winning more voters for the party.
“Shah has to coordinate more effectively with the RSS and the government so that the government’s programmes are implemented at the ground level and that the goodwill thus generated transforms into votes.
Modi has reportedly expressed his displeasure with the party machinery’s failure to check the dipping popularity of the government and to project the government’s achievements.
Shah also has to ensure that the roadmap he has drawn up for the party’s growth at ground level is successfully completed,” said The Indian Express.
9. Get new and strong players for state and general elections:
PM Modi might reshuffle his Cabinet and bring out a couple of ministers to work for the party. Thus Shah will be given a new team with strong players for the upcoming elections.
“He will also have a new team, following which sources say, PM Modi will shuffle his Cabinet. Those in the know say that at least two cabinet ministers may be drafted for party work.
While the heavyweight ministries like Home and Finance will be untouched, the reshuffle would see “non-performers” being shown the door, say the sources,” reported Business World.
10. Live up to expectations:
During his tenure, Shah will have to repeatedly prove himself as the master strategist of the BJP.
“Mr Shah has to make sure that his image of a ‘doer’ continues in his second term. If the BJP wants to retain power in 2019, preparations have to begin now.
The skills lie in overcoming obstacles and for this, the Modi-Shah combine needs not only a good strategy but good luck too,” reported The Pioneer.
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.