Redefining party building: Amit Shah is leading BJP with courage of conviction Back

August 17, 2017

Originally Published In

On the evening of Narendra Modi’s swearing in as prime minister, Amit Shah was in the audience sitting next to a leader of a BJP ally. The alliance party leader informally enquired about Amit Shah’s chances of becoming party chief and said it would be a welcome development. Amit Shah politely remarked, tongue in cheek, that the latter’s joy may be short lived as in the event of his taking over, BJP may not part with so many seats. The ally leader was stumped by his candour.

Political scientist Rajni Kothari had famously defined what he termed the Congress system of party building. Pointing out the strength of Congress in the late seventies he rightly observed, “Congress is still, and is likely to be for a long time, the most organised political party in the country, with a nationwide following and considerable depth in the localities.” Ironically, today’s Congress seems to have squandered all that it had earned. And it is BJP that has emerged as the most organised party with pan-India following and presence in localities.

In fact, that rightly sums up the work of BJP chief Amit Shah. He has, through unrelenting efforts, converted the ‘nationwide following’ of Prime Minister Narendra Modi into ‘considerable depth in the localities’. For any objective political analyst, Shah’s work presents a case study of party building.

When Shah took over in August 2014, BJP was in power in just a handful of states. Today, it has its own chief ministers in 13 states and is a partner in another five states. Its membership has increased from three crores to 11 crores. It has the largest number of MLAs and MPs as well. Even in Rajya Sabha, BJP is now the top party. To have achieved this in a span of barely three years is unparalleled and historic.

Through his presidency, Shah has ensured that party cadre remain engaged in one meaningful activity after the other. In the past two years BJP has conducted thousands of training programmes involving over ten lakh party workers. Many of these trained human resources are now engaged in grassroots party work as vistaraks, with their eyes set on party consolidation at the booth level. Over 4000 workers, dedicating six months to a year away from the cosy comforts of their homes, are engaged in this all over the country.

Shah believes in setting an example through his own untiring efforts. During the last few months, he has spent over 60 days undertaking systematic organisational tours to states across the country. On these tours he interacts with all functionaries, seeks feedback from booth level workers, meets all elected representatives, breaks bread with artists and writers, listens to social media enthusiasts and engages in question-answer sessions, thereby establishing a powerful connect.

Shah richly deserves credit for institutionalising party functioning. He has established an integrated chain of party meetings. Its national executive meets every quarter followed by state, district and taluka executives, ensuring a seamless flow of message from the top and feedback from the ground. Also, from Policy Research to Party Literature and Good Governance to Party Programmes, he has created 19 party departments with a clear functional mandate.

Besides, he is out to change the very culture of party mobilisation. He wants party workers to be sensitive to the agonies of the underprivileged and aspirations of all. In order to further sensitise party workers, he has also asked party units to undertake some ten projects, three of which have a clear social content.

What is remarkable is his clear vision. He understands very well the importance of groundswell of goodwill, public trust and support earned by Modi. He knows these are the best of times to build upon this capital. Setting up well equipped party offices at every district with a library and e-library, containing rich collection of books, is a key item on his agenda.

Felicitating Shah on his Rajya Sabha election, Modi pointed out that to galvanise party organisation when the party is in power is extremely difficult. But difficulties have never deterred Shah. In his view “electoral success is important, but remember we are not an election winning machine. We are a party with a mission, a mission of reconstructing a great India.”