Amit Shah, a close aide to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was Wednesday named the BJP’s new president, only two months after leading the party to a spectacular win in the Lok Sabha election in Uttar Pradesh.
A former home minister of Gujarat, Shah — presently a general secretary — succeeds Rajnath Singh, the home minister in Modi’s government.
Rajnath Singh made the widely expected announcement about Shah, 49, after a meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s parliamentary board.
Once this was done, a beaming Shah — a share trader by profession — accepted sweets and bouquets from party colleagues including Modi, Rajnath Singh, L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi.
“Amit Shah is the new president,” Rajnath Singh told the media as Modi and Shah looked on.
Rajnath Singh said Shah had been chosen for the post because of his “organisational and management skills” which he said was seen in the Uttar Pradesh battle.
In an extraordinary performance that stunned foes and friends alike, the BJP bagged 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh where Shah spearheaded the party campaign like a warrior possessed. Two other seats went to a BJP ally, Apna Dal.
The Congress was left with just two Lok Sabha seats, the Samajwadi Party could get only five (with Mulayam Singh winning two of the seats) while the Bahujan Samaj Party was wiped out.
Ever since, Shah was widely seen as the front-runner for the top party post.
First elected to the Gujarat assembly in 1997, Shah describes his hobbies as cricket, reading and social service.
Over the years, Shah emerged as Modi’s most trusted political aide in Gujarat.
Once Modi was named the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, he ensured that Shah was made the election campaign chief in Uttar Pradesh realizing that without a sweep in the state the party’s future would be bleak.