Post-COVID-19-Amit Shah is full of surprises
The home minister, newly recovered from the coronavirus, gave back to back interviews in which revealed a new, softer side.
Back after a long stint at the hospital due to the coronavirus, Amit Shah has been making a string of appearances in the press, just in time for the assembly elections in Bihar. But this Shah is somehow new, more subdued than the aggressive, no holds barred leader of lore. He has been more conciliatory and not playing to his usual audience. This was abundantly clear at many points during his interview with News18.
He put to rest speculations that the BJP was trying to unseat Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar and their NDA ally. Former coalition partner LJP is now contesting independently, against Nitish Kumar but with BJP, and it’s being taken as a sign that BJP was hedging its bets while undermining Nitish. This had spooked the JDU so much that Nitish demanded that he speak to Shah and was only reassured when Shah declared that even if BJP got more seats, Nitish Kumar would be the chief minister.
He also commented on the controversy around the Tanishq ad which showed an interfaith marriage. It raised an outcry about love jihad with demands for the brand to be boycotted and a store manager even being threatened. Shah said that such attacks can’t break India’s social harmony which had withstood much more. Over-activism of any kind should be avoided. This is as close as he has come to rebuking the infamous BJP troll army.
On the issue of the tussle between the Maharashtra Governor and Chief Minister over the opening of religious places, Shah suggested that Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, an RSS veteran, should have shown more restraint. Last week Koshyari had trigged controversy by writing to CM Uddhav Thackrey about why he continues to postpone the opening of religious places and if he had turned ‘secular’. This angered Thackrey who said he didn’t need Koshyari’s certificate on Hindutva. Thackrey’s Shiv Sena and the BJP are former allies and have a complicated relationship.
And finally, Shah commented on the media circus around the suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput saying media trials should not be done for TRPs, speaking about the very same channels who are the BJP’s flagbearers. With this, he also seemed to be easing off the Maharashtra government and Mumbai police who the media and Centre had been continually lambasting over the mishandling of the case. The clearest sign that he is ready to welcome Thackrey and the Shiv Sena back into the fold should the opportunity arise.