Widely credited for BJP’s spectacular victory in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections, Shah succeeds Rajnath Singh, who has been given charge of the Defence Ministry in the new government, which took oath on Thursday.
The BJP-led NDA returned to power with 353 seats in the elections. The BJP won 303 seats on its own.
Born into an affluent Gujarati family in Mumbai in 1964, Shah lived and studied in his paternal village Maansa in Gujarat until the age of 16. Upon completion of his school education, Shah’s family shifted to Ahmedabad, where he became an active member of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS).
He joined the BJP in 1984-85 and his first assignment was that of a poll agent at Ahmedabad’s Naranpura ward followed by secretaryship of the Naranpura ward.
Successful completion of these tasks earned him bigger responsibilities as national treasurer of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) and then as secretary and Vice-President of the Gujarat BJP. In these roles, Shah actively campaigned to expand its base, says the BJP official website.
He also successfully handled mass mobilisation of people in favour of the Ram Janambhoomi movement and Ekta Yatra, the website adds.
Having managed the poll campaigns of L.K. Advani in Ahmedabad and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Gandhinagar, he earned himself the reputation of an astute election manager.
Shah also initiated and successfully completed in 1990 the difficult task of documenting the party’s primary members in Gujarat. This helped the BJP overturn established fortunes and emerge as the principal and only opposition party to the Congress in the state, says the website.
In the by-election that followed the fall of BJP government, Shah successfully contested Assembly polls from Sarkhej in Ahmedabad winning the seat by a margin of nearly 25,000 votes. He won from the same seat by over 1.30 lakh votes in 1998.
A key achievement of Shah’s political career was breaking the stranglehold of the Congress over Gujarat’s cooperative movement, which was a source of electoral strength and influence. In 1998, barring a single Cooperative Bank, all other cooperative institutions were controlled by the Congress.
Recognising his commitment and abilities, the BJP made Shah the President of the party in 2014. In this year’s Lok Sabha elections, he won the Gandhinagar seat by a margin of 5.57 lakh votes against his nearest Congress rival C.J. Chavda.