14 May, 2021

Modi-Shah ‘Jugalbandi’ Is The Biggest Story Of 2019 Election Mandate

Theirs is a unique partnership that successfully ground down the anti-BJP narratives around demonetisation, farm distress and ­job flight, getting people across sections to vote for Modi. And Amit Shah’s realpolitik may now enable the PM to build an inclusive image.

Photograph by Getty Images
Modi-Shah ‘Jugalbandi’ Is The Biggest Story Of 2019 Election Mandate

It’s an epic rerun. The man who is already a metaphor for something superhuman has reduced every­thing before him to a cipher. Like some mythic hero, he turned every weak link into a Teflon-coated asset. But there’s one unmistakable change in the story. The voters saw only ‘Modi’, the endless promotionals carried only his face, and it’s surely his visage that trumped the facelessness of the Opposition—but looming over the landscape was also another face, another mind. Chandragupta-­Chanakya is the preferred reference for bhakts. But perhaps that doesn’t express this new chemistry entirely. On May 17, as PM Narendra Modi joined BJP president Amit Shah for the press conference at the party headquarters, he seemed comfortable taking a backseat. “I am a disciplined soldier; the party president is everything for me,” said Modi.

This raja-mantri duet is clearly a new kind of compound. The latter has, visibly, more executive powers than all the sundry Kautilyas of history, who only ideated, and yet he yields to the...

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