Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah on Saturday took charge as the 30th Union Home Minister. The 55-year-old leader suceeded Rajnath Singh and assumed charge a day after he was assigned the home portfolio as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government returned for a second term in office.
The leadership change in the high-profile ministry is expected to usher in a certain decisiveness and an iron-hand approach to terror, insurgency and secessionism.
While Rajnath Singh had given a free hand to security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, resulting in heavy casualties among terrorists, Shah is expected to be proactive and lead from the front.
With his appointment as the Home Minister, Shah’s policy in J&K will be crucial. Security and development initiatives are likely to be pushed in J&K ahead of the Assembly elections in October-November this year.
Shah’s role will also be significant in bringing clarity on how the Centre wants to address the issue of Article 35A in J&K. Besides, Shah will face the challenge of keeping up pressure on terrorists and ensure an incident-free Amarnath Yatra.
Completion of the NRC exercise in Assam within the deadline, set by the Supreme Court, is also an immediate challenge. Also, he faces the task of getting the Citizenship Bill passed by the Rajya Sabha, while ensuring that it does not cause unrest in Assam and other north-eastern states.
Shah was welcomed by Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief Rajiv Jain as he reached his North Block office. He was also felicitated by new Ministers of State for Home, G. Kishan Reddy and Nityanand Rai, who also took charge of office on Saturday.
Soon after taking charge, Shah called for a high-level meeting, involving the Home Secretary, the IB chief and other senior Ministry officials, to take stock of internal security.
Shah was apprised about works of different divisions. He is expected to review division-wise presentation at the Ministry, starting next week.
Shah, who headed Gujarat Home Ministry under Modi as the Chief Minister, may need to adopt different approach as the Centre is a different pitch where a Minister has to take the states and agencies along. He will have to be more accommodative of views of police forces and agencies while taking decisions.
Under his leadership, central forces can be expected to make further inroads into Maoist bastions, while placing no premium on talks with insurgents where their demands impinge on sovereignty or constitutional parameters.
As Gujarat Home Minister, Shah was said to be the force behind drafting of GUJCOCA, the first anti-terror law by the state. The law, however, was not approved by the then UPA government and raised objections to certain provisions.
Shah has pursued agriculture while being a political and social worker. Born in an affluent Gujarati family in 1964 in Mumbai, Shah lived and studied in his paternal village Maansa in Gujarat until the age of 16.
Shah has been a member of the Gujarat Assembly from 1997 to 2017 and served as a Minister in the Gujarat government from 2002 to 2010, and held key portfolios, including Home, Transport, Prohibition, Parliamentary Affairs, Law, and Excise.
In August, 2017 he was elected to the Rajya Sabha.