New Delhi: Ending all speculation about his return to Gujarat politics anytime in the near future, BJP president Amit Shah has said he is here to stay in national politics.
In an exclusive interview to Network 18, Shah said that “there is no question of me returning to Gujarat. And I am in central politics only.”
What’s more, he has also indicated his willingness to shepherd the party in the next general elections in 2019.
“This is no time to think of that. My first objective is that BJP win 2019 with a bigger margin than 2014,”Shah responded on being probed about his future plans, especially regarding joining government.
The first statement about continuing in national politics is definitive. The issue first came to the fore in the run up to the leadership change in Gujarat when Anandiben Patel was on her way out.
There were reports in a section of the media that Shah was one of the possible replacements. The question was whether Prime Minister could ask his trusted lieutenant to lead the state where BJP has not lost any elections in the last 25 years.
In a quick turn of events, Shah was able to install a close aide of his Vijay Rupani as the chief minister. But even that hasn’t stamped out speculations within the party. Now people ask if Rupani is keeping the thrown ready if BJP were to win power in Gujarat again.
In this interview to Network 18, Shah it seems is attempting to put a lid to all such talks.
Moreover ahead of any state Assembly polls, political pundits link election results to its impact on the current dispensation in the BJP.
A defeat in Bihar resulted in the Margdarshak Mandal writing open letter seeking introspection. On the other hand, a victory in Assam consolidated both Modi and Shah within and outside the party.
But there are some in the BJP who feel the entire debate is misplaced and irrespective of the outcome in any state polls, Shah is here to stay at the helm of affairs.
“Did anything affect Shah’s political prospects after Bihar? So all this is mere conjecture and will remain that,” says a BJP insider.
The second assertion by the BJP President, in the interview to Network 18, is interesting in the sense that it indicates who would head the organisation when party faces the electorate in the next general elections.
Shah would complete his first term as party president in January 2019. Modi government completes its five year term in May, 2019.
BJP constitution stipulates Party President can get maximum two three year terms in office.
It is important to clarify here that Shah first became BJP President after Rajnath Singh joined Modi government after 2014 election victory. So technically till January 2016, he was completing Rajnath’s remaining tenure of three years, and consequently is entitled to another shot at the top post.
Moreover it is also quite unlikely BJP would want to disrupt the system put in place just ahead of the next general elections.