Shah’s schedule is packed with a dozen activities including visits to religious mutts or houses of party workers
The BJP has always boasted of better organisational skills as compared to its rivals, and now, as party chief Amit Shah starts micromanaging the Karnataka election campaign, local leaders are having to come to grips with his take-no-prisoners style.
Shah, a perfectionist, functions more like a CEO than a political party president. However, unlike a modern-day business head, he does not believe in decentralisation and prefers to be a control freak.
To be fair to Shah, he had given ample warnings to the local leadership that he would be forced to intervene if they failed to sink their differences and work unitedly. When this did not happen, the chief lost no time in importing his trusted lieutenants from Delhi and planting them in different parts of the state, thus enabling him to have his finger on the pulse even at the booth level.
With Shah playing the role of a sutradaar, local leaders have been reduced to puppets. His instructions to them are clear, “Blindly follow my instructions and I will ensure that BJP wins Karnataka.”
Even organising a press conference has turned out to be a nightmare for the local team, given Shah’s eye for minute detail like seating arrangements, backdrop or placement of microphones. The local organisers are even expected to know the names of all journalists and their background. Having received a tongue-lashing on many occasions, they have set up a special team to ensure that nothing is left to chance.
“I have worked with almost all top leaders of the BJP, but have not come across anybody like Shah who believes in perfection in all that he does,” says S Prakash, a veteran state BJP spokesman of over two decades.
Shah, who does not believe in informal media interactions, usually comes well prepared for his press conferences, though he had to face some embarrassing moments recently due to a slip of the tongue when he referred to his own party man BS Yeddyurappa as the most corrupt chief minister of the state.
Unlike his predecessors who would usually have only two or three engagements a day, Shah’s schedule is packed with a dozen activities including visits to religious mutts or houses of party workers, interaction with groups like Dalits or farmers, public rallies and media interviews.
By the end of the day, he is still fresh as a daisy and once done with public engagements, it is time to plot strategies with party leaders behind closed doors, an activity which usually stretches beyond 2 am. The next morning, he is again ready to hit the road at seven.
And amidst his hectic schedule, the big boss also finds time to advise his colleagues on maintaining a healthy regimen. Shah, who lost 20 kgs in one year with a strict diet and exercise routine, is careful about what he eats, assiduously avoiding fried food and sweets.
Shah is often referred to as head master by local party workers due to his no-nonsense approach, but is he a good teacher and how will his class perform in the crucial examinations? The results will be known in less than a month.
(The author is a political commentator and a senior journalist)