Appointment of BJP president Amit Shah as Union Home Minister on Friday was greeted with unconcealed glee by BJP and Sangh supporters. Shah, who was the Home Minister in Gujarat with Narendra Modi as chief minister, was widely tipped to be the new Home Minister even as speculation continued on Shah being offered Finance as it was mistakenly believed to be the second most important ministry after those handled by the Prime Minister.
It has been a dramatic rise for someone who was earlier arrested by the CBI for his complicity in an encounter killing by Gujarat Police and externed by the Supreme Court. Now as Home Minister he will be in a position to officially control the CBI.
As BJP President, Shah was believed to be calling the shots and informally directing agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation. With a relative lightweight Nirmala Sitharaman as the new Finance Minister, Shah is expected to control agencies under both the Home Ministry as well as Finance.
With Niti Ayog on Friday declaring the Government’s intent to privatise 46 Public Sector Units in the first 100 days of the new Government, Shah’s portfolio assumes even greater significance. The Home Ministry will be expected to ensure peaceful transition of PSUs into private hands and detain trade union leaders if they protest.
Tweets from BJP supporters on Friday provided the ‘high expectations’ that they have from the ‘Chanakya’ and the ‘Strongman’ of BJP.
The new Home Minister is widely expected to fix political rivals and critics of the BJP Government. With the Home Ministry having the data base and exercising various degrees of control over the media, NGOs, investigating agencies like the CBI and NIA etc., it is certainly going to be hyper active in dealing with opposition parties and governments led by opposition parties.
The new Home Minister could be keen to introduce the National register of Citizens (NRC) in every state of the country and abolish contentious provisions like Articles 370 and 35A. He is expected to take a tough stand on Kashmir and some sections believe that he would like to get the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya out of the way to fulfil the party’s long-standing promise.
Shah, who was alleged to have ordered the Gujarat Police to stalk a woman architect and who is said to have approved several encounter killings by policemen, He was also arrested in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter killing and his trial was moved out of Gujarat by the Supreme Court. He was acquitted in the case later under controversial circumstances.
He blamed the UPA Government for implicating him, though it was Gujarat Police that busted the case and the Supreme Court which externed him.