With the selection of Amit Shah as party president, the BJP has handed over its leadership to the third generation of leaders. With second generation leaders like Sushma Swaraj, Ananth Kumar, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu becoming ministers, the party has chosen a younger but controversial leader to lead it. Shah has been through an ordeal of fire, having proved his organisational skills by virtually decimating the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress in Uttar Pradesh in the recent parliamentary elections. He has been given the remainder term of Rajnath Singh until 2015. But his full term will begin in 2015 and will last till the next Lok Sabha elections in 2019. His mandate is to make the party an alternative to not only the Congress but to all successful regional parties, too. His immediate priority would be to lead the party to victory in the coming Assembly elections in Delhi, Haryana and Maharashtra and later in Jharkhand, Bihar and Assam.
Shah’s appointment is a clear manifestation of the BJP’s “modification” since he is the closest aide to prime minister Narendra Modi. Shah will carry out Modi’s plan for restructuring the BJP. He will also deal proactively with the legal cases against him now and in future.
Undeniably, while Shah’s organising skills are excellent, the BJP has taken a big risk by appointing him to such a key post. At 49, Shah will be perhaps the youngest party president till date. He will require tact and diplomacy to deal with the RSS as well as keep the seniors in the party in good humour. The cases against him will test his resilience and character. He will need to take the entire party along and resist the tendency to be dictatorial. A few slips on his part will not only take the sheen away from him but also raise questions on his leader Modi. By catapulting him from just a state leader to the national level, both the RSS and the BJP’s senior leadership have placed massive confidence in him which he cannot afford to belie.