Book on Amit Shah details early campaigning days

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New book says Mr. Shah’s enforced exit from Gujarat laid the foundation of his successful 2014 U.P. campaign.

by Nistula Hebbar

Home Minister Amit Shah, now occupying an office held by the late Sardar Patel, got his start in political campaigning when, as a 13-year-old, he accompanied Maniben Patel (the Sardar’s daughter) in her Lok Sabha campaign from Mehsana in 1977. A new book on Mr. Shah, “Amit Shah and the March of the BJP” (Bloomsbury) by authors Anirban Ganguly and Shiwanand Dwivedi makes this point in the Home Minister’s own words fairly early on.

Mr. Shah’s great-grandfather and grandfather had been nagarsheths of the princely State of Mandsa in Gujarat and had linkages with leaders of the freedom movement over the years. “My grandfather and father were part of Gandhian circles, my mother was a staunch Gandhian herself and they were well known to these senior leaders,” the book quotes Mr. Shah.

“During the 1977 campaign, a large number of these senior Gandhians who were exasperated with Indira Gandhi, like Acharya J.B. Kripalani (1888-1982) and Maniben Patel and many others decided to come together in support of the Janata Party. During the election campaign, Acharya Kripalani put up in our house for seven days and supported the campaign. He was in advanced years and had decided to stay put in one place and express solidarity with the movement to unseat Indira. I would go out every day accompanying Maniben as part of her campaign team. She was quite old by then but would go around the whole day campaigning. This gave me my first experience,” Mr. Shah is further quoted in the book as saying.

The book also details Mr. Shah’s early career, early influences on him, including the writings of the late K.M. Munshi (lawyer, politician and educationist who founded the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan), who is mentioned frequently in the early chapters.

Mr. Shah’s stint outside Gujarat, as ordered by the court in 2010-11, is also detailed in the book as the most difficult challenge of his life. His travels across the country especially to Varanasi, following his enforced exit from Gujarat, the book says, laid the foundations of his Uttar Pradesh campaign of 2014, which led to the BJP getting 71 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats.

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