What should India expect from new Home Minister Amit Shah
From 2014 to 2019, things have changed for PM Narendra Modi, for better. This time, he got a bigger mandate and he inducted his right-hand man Amit Shah into the Cabinet. Shah was made the Union Home Minister, and he soon emerged as a power center, painting a picture of what the next five years will look like. Here's decoding Shah's place in government.
Shah was given the Home Ministry, one of four most important legs of Cabinet. The other major ministries are Defense, Finance, and External Affairs. While Shah is not the senior most leader in the Cabinet, he is bound to enjoy the maximum power. This is because Shah, as BJP President, played a vital role in upping saffron party's 2014 tally of 282 seats.
Now, coming to Shah as Home Minister. For starters, a meeting he chaired on Tuesday gave political observers an idea about what to expect in the next few years. Foreign Minister Jaishankar, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant went to Shah's office to discuss pressing matters. Arguably, ex-Home Minister Rajnath Singh didn't enjoy this clout.
The meeting was convened to discuss rising oil prices and Bharat Petroleum's idea of investing $2.4 billion in gas field in Mozambique, but other issues were also discussed. Later, the ministers downplayed the meeting. While Goyal said he came to have coffee, Pradhan said he went for "tea and biscuits". But the fact that Shah chaired an inter-ministerial meeting was too obvious to be missed.
"This is the first time such an inter-ministerial meeting was held under the second Modi government. Under the last home minister, apart from home related inter-ministerial meetings, such gatherings barely took place," a bureaucrat told NDTV.
It seems Shah has also been tasked with ensuring that the narrative doesn't slip out of BJP's hands. On Tuesday, he reportedly dialed Union Minister Giriraj Singh to reprimand him for the unnecessary comments he made about an iftar party. The party was attended by BJP's Sushil Modi and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, and Singh expressed his dissent on Twitter, inviting Shah's ire.
With Shah at the "center of the Centre", BJP supporters have high hopes. From scrapping Article 370 to bringing a Uniform Civil Code, Shah has his hands full. It is left to be seen how the former Home Minister of Gujarat performs at Centre.