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Late last week, a special CBI court adjourned the bail application of Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin and Tulsi Prajapati fake encounter cases, accepting his excuse that he was engaged in political work in New Delhi. Shah, 49, the first serving Home minister of a state to have gone behind bars in a criminal case of murder and conspiracy had a legitimate reason to skip court hearings. He was presiding and taking part in day-long meetings in Delhi with senior RSS leaders and BJP functionaries who were all set to seal his fate as the next BJP President.

Amit Shah Narendra Modi BJP
Amit Shah becomes President of BJP in spite of extremely dubious credentials

There is a significant back story to his exemption which did find its way as a small snippet in the media but needs to be brought to light as Shah, the man who waved the magic wand for BJP in Uttar Pradesh, the PM’s confidante and the number two in the government now takes over the reins of the party. Amit Shah had twice in the past sought exemption from personal appearance citing political work, but the then CBI judge JT Utpat had found his excuse inadequate for the court to grant him relief. On June 20, while hearing the application, Utpat allowed the same but made a scathing remark “Everytime you are giving this exemption application without assigning any reason,” he told Shahs counsel. In less than a week, Utpat was transferred to a Pune court before he could preside over Shahs discharge application. Shah managed his way out with a tried and tested formula of transferring judges, practiced brazenly in his home state of Gujarat through his tenure as Home Minister.

As a journalist covering Gujarat extensively since 2005, as someone who exposed Shah’s role in the fake encounters in the state and who can claim to have knowledge of his political trajectory, I would not mince my words in suggesting that by appointing Amit Shah as the president of the party, the BJP has hugely disrespected the law of the land and signalled an all time low for the criminal justice system of India. For the cases against Shah are for crimes so gruesome that the cloak of political astuteness will be too short to cover it.

In its chargesheet filed in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, the CBI which had been investigating the case under the watchful eye of the Supreme Court of India had not just named Shah as one of the key accused and conspirators but also named him as the head of an extortion racket which involved underworld thugs, politicians and businessmen. In its submission before the apex court bench of Justice P Sathasivam and Justice BS Chauhan, the CBI stated that the minister was in cahoots with senior cops from Gujarat including the likes of DG Vanzara and Abhay Chudasama who had been sentenced for cold-blooded murder – concluding that Shah was a hardcore criminal. Shah was also chargesheeted in the murder of Kauser Bi, the wife of Sohrabuddin who according to the official papers was raped, sedated, killed and her body burnt and thrown in a river.

One could have well debated the merits of the CBI chargesheet and read political motives but for the fact that the Supreme court itself gave CBI the sanction to arrest Shah at the same time, coming down harshly on the Gujarat state police investigation led by the then top cop Geeta Johri for going slow and misleading the courts. If the SIT verdict on Narendra Modi’s role in the Gujarat encounters is to be held as the final word, by virtue of it being monitored by the apex court, it is baffling then that Narendra Modi who promised clean and transparent governance to this country and setting up fast track courts to look into cases of criminal charges against politicians has turned a blind eye to Shah’s criminal past.

Shah has been Modi’s confidante since his days as a pracharak in Gujarat and Maharashtra. With Shah's induction on the national scene first as the General Secretary of the BJP and now as the BJP President, Modi has risked his own political image for the sake of his ally and friend who has put to shame the best political pundits and strategists from North India with his shrewd manoeuvring. In the coming days, the party will have to prove its popularity not just in the by-elections of Uttar Pradesh but also in the forthcoming Assembly Elections in three states, the most significant being the battle for Maharashtra. Party insiders have stressed on Maharashtra being a prestige battle for Modi whose party swept the Lok Sabha elections a couple of months ago. Going by the minutes of the internal meetings held between Modi, Shah and senior heads in the BJP and the RSS, the Prime Minister has silenced his detractors in the party who were against Shah's elevation citing his ability to churn out big numbers.

Many in the Gujarat BJP believe that Modi has been under tremendous pressure by Shah to return the favours he has allegedly bestowed on his mentor in the last two decades of their association. It’s a well known fact that during Modi's rebellion against former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel and in his fight with the ex-Home Minister of Gujarat Haren Pandya, it was Shah who stood firmly by Modi's side galvanizing the cadres and leaders in favour of his boss.

As the second in command in the Modi dispensation, the youngest minister in his cabinet who held charge of twelve ministries including the powerful Minister of State for Home, Shah single-handedly thwarted all trouble that came in the way of Modi with his office getting the infamous tag of the “dirty tricks department of the CM”. It was under his tenure as Home Minister that the Gujarat police went on a spree of fake encounters in the state – holding regular press conferences for the media with the bodies of the alleged assassins on display. The officers would claim that the Gujarat CM was under threat from jihadists who were out to assassinate the man who brought back Hindu asmita in Gujarat.

While the chief minister managed to leave unscathed during the investigations of most of the encounters which were later pronounced as fake, Shah found himself listed as the prime accused in three encounters, his role in the other two being probed by the CBI with investigations in the case still on.

Another major dent in Shah's image came with his alleged involvement in the Snoopgate scandal, in which he is heard instructing one of his key lieutenants – IPS officer GL Singhal who was then incharge of the ATS, to carry on surveillance on a young woman. The tapes which were released late last year created a furore after it became obvious that Shah as the Home Minister of the state was using state machinery to snoop on innocent civilians, monitoring their moves. In this particular case, a young woman whose movements, including aspects of her personal life were being reported to the CM on a daily basis.

With such serious criminal charges against him, has Modi denigrated the position of the party president by handing over Shah the reins of the party. Would it now be safe to assume that Prime Minister Narendra Modi acted against the interests of the judiciary by rejecting the nomination of Gopal Subramaniam as a Supreme court judge as he was also the amicus curiae in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case. Ever since the Prime Minister assumed office, ex-CBI directors including Ashwini Kumar and AP Singh who were at the helm of affairs in the CBI during the investigation of the encounters, find themselves being at the receiving end of Shah's wrath. While Kumar has stepped down as governor of Nagaland, AP Singh is reportedly under pressure to step down as member of the UPSC after the Income Tax department served notices to him and his family members in an investigation into alleged tax evasion by meat exporter Moin Qureshi.

These could all well be coincidences if one were to take a larger liberal view of the developments including the transfer of 89-year-old ailing governor of Gujarat Kamla Beniwal, who under her tenure locked horns with Modi and Shah over the appointment of Lokayukta in the state. But even if one were to dismiss these actions against officials, lawyers, judges who played significant roles in the criminal justice process involving Amit Shah as conjectures, will it not be pertinent to suggest that by appointing Shah as the BJP President, Modi has acted in contradiction to his promise of a free and fair government, which will have no space for vindictiveness. Hasn't Modi and the BJP under the guidance of the RSS just made the first attack on the principle of clean governance on the basis of which the party came to power? Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs to answer this one.

This piece is authored by journalist & writer, Rana Ayyub. She tweets at @RanaAyyub. Sharing it here with the consent of the author.

Many people these days are eager to write about how Modi is a bad idea and come up with stupid ideas like his marriage status and then argue themselves into a corner about how it is their business because lying on paper and finally getting trolled into a corner where you have to get asked about the girlfriends of Congress MPs and it goes downhill from there.

There are better things to clobber Modi with, that will also educate the country on more than how to aim for someone's wife or girlfriend if you want to attack them.

Truth of Gujarat

Amazing Congress supporters don't read this more, because it is among the best websites for debunking the self proclaimed Vikas Purush. It is in the lucky position of not having to tell many lies to oppose, because Modi regularly indulges them with suo motu bloopers. This is also a good place to find links for specific subjects if you actually get replies on biggies. Read, learn, be entertained. Truth of Gujarat

Modi's Gujarat speeches

While you were busy outraging about Modi, Modi supporters had quietly gone and got down links to his speeches endorsing violence to the point where some time in 2009, I really had to search (and did not find) a link to give someone as an example of what used to be appreciated in RSS circles as "fiery speeches" - and it takes a lot for someone from the land of Bal Thackeray to even register another fiery speaker as having any potential at all (other than his nephew).

Here are parts of Modi's election campaign for Gujarat CM, round one. His speaking style is a little different. Puppies sounds better than many other things.

Not only was he unapologetic, he was gloating over the riots in public election rallies. Tough to paint that one as "helpless to prevent".

BJP funding

BJP is on a spending spree like nobody's business. Mega expenses, mega deployment of promotion. This is in addition to misuse of state resources to promote a national political agenda. Nice to ask a bhakt, where is BJP funding for all this coming from? Surely if there were dramatic donations coming in, BJP wouldn't have wasted a minute stating them when AAP CLOBBERED them with each speech against them raising mega donations? You think BJP would waste a moment to say "Never mind the one crore donations Modi speech raised for AAP today, check out this 10 crores coming in daily last month.". So the donations would come from those who would profit from a BJP win (just like for AAP), only it doesn't seem to be the masses.

The RSS connection

Modi's RSS connection is played up or down depending on who the audience is, but the fact remains that over 2000 RSS shakhas have come up in the last three months. 185 Sangh Parivar organizations are campaigning for Modi, including 44 thousand RSS shakhas. RSS is planning to move some 2000 cadre into the BJP if BJP wins the elections to keep the RSS ideology strong in the party. For all the insistence that Modi is not a fundamentalist and is a "Vikas Purush", the investment of RSS in his win as well the plans for spreading its influence in the party in the event of a win both tell its own tale. Modi had joined BJP after being an RSS Pracharak as well, during the last time BJP was in power as a part of the NDA government. Within months of him assuming power, the fanatics had been bold enough to wreak their own brand of revenge for what they proclaimed as a crime by all Muslims against them regardless of law and order, and whatever Modi claims now, his election campaign immediately after fully glorified the riots and demonized its victims (video above).

2000 RSS shakhas come up in 3 months to campaign for Modi

Even as Modi projects himself (literally, using 3D) as a modern, innovative leader with focus on development, his most trusted sidekick is busy touring riot hit areas of UP with speeches promoting "revenge" against the SP government through the ballot. This isn't unlike the "Miyan Musharraf" speeches of 2002, where the absent Musharraf served as a euphemism for Muslims within the population.

Wikileaks cables

No, not the one Modi creatively exaggerated to give himself a character certificate, but another, more worrying one that describes his methods of polarization among Hindu ranks through the eyes of an independent observer. Here are important parts of the text:

1. (C) On August 1, controversial Gujarat BJP Chief Minister
Narendra Modi (whose visa we revoked for his role in the 2002
Gujarat Hindu-Muslim riots) expanded his cabinet by inducting 11
new ministers. In doing so, Modi met a long-standing demand of
the rebels within his own party who had openly criticized him
for not sharing power more broadly. A closer look at the timing
of the expansion and the allocation of the portfolios, however,
leads most of our contacts to argue that Modi actually
ingeniously weakened his critics by only appearing to devolve
some power to them, and by securing pledges of loyalty.
Following the cabinet expansion, many rebels all but conceded
defeat in their long drawn-out battle for power with Modi, whose
star is rising in national BJP politics. Modi's move also
demonstrates that caste-based politics remain alive in Gujarat.
The chief minister, himself from a small, economically weak
caste group, used the expansion to weaken the position of the
long dominant Patel caste to the advantage of what are
categorized by the government as Other Backward Castes (OBCs).
Modi's latest actions may alienate both the better-off, urban
middle classes that have supported him until now as well as the
hard-line Hindu VHP, which used the swearing-in ceremony to
rebuke Modi publicly. On balance, however, it appears that Modi
has solidified his power in Gujarat and that the rebellion of
his fellow BJP politicians could likely flicker out. Modi is
using his strong base in Gujarat to position himself for the BJP
power struggle and to crow about Gujarat's investment-friendly
(but certainly not minority-friendly) record. End summary and
comment.

Modi Shares Power With His Critics...
-------------------------------------

2. (C) In late March, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national
president Lal Krishan Advani directed Modi to expand his cabinet
after BJP parliamentarians openly criticized the chief
minister's autocratic leadership style (ref A). Modi consented
under the condition that the BJP appoint a state party president
loyal to him. In early June, Advani kept his part of the
bargain when the BJP appointed Vajubhai Vala as Gujarat BJP
president (ref B). Vala is widely seen as pro-Modi.

3. (C) On August 1, Modi finally expanded his cabinet by
swearing in 11 new ministers. The cabinet, which had far fewer
ministers than allowed under Indian law, expanded to 26 as a
result. Opinions differ among our Gujarat contacts as to whether
or not the cabinet expansion is truly a sign that Modi is
finally prepared to share power with the rebels, whose
opposition to the chief minister was founded primarily on
questions of power and personality and less on any political or
ideological differences. The new ministers were drawn in nearly
equal numbers from the rebel faction, from Modi's supporters,
and from so-called fence sitters that are neither Modi's
supporters nor opponents.

...And Weakens Them in the Process
----------------------------------

4. (C) Many contacts, including journalists Anosh Malekar and
Uday Mahurkar as well as BJP official Pankaj Mudholkar, told us
that none of the new ministers will have any significant
policy-making clout or sizable budgets that can be diverted for
political patronage. The newcomers received departments such as
woman and child welfare, employment guarantee and fisheries.
The CM and his core supporters still control the most important
portfolios, such as Home, Finance, Industry, Irrigation and
Rural Development.

5. (C) Mudholkar and Mahurkar said that Modi has ingeniously
strengthened his position while weakening that of his opponents
by superficially devolving some power to them. Modi timed the
expansion of the cabinet to take advantage of the absence of the
leader of the rebels, former Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai
Patel. Patel is currently in the U.S., where his wife is
undergoing medical treatment. Modi reportedly focused on two
influential Patel supporters and enticed them to join his
cabinet under conditions that Patel himself would probably never
have supported. Modi also offered selective cabinet postings to
rebels and fence sitters who he knew could be easily co-opted.
"The rebels are weakening," journalist Malekar told us. "The
so-called opponents inducted in the cabinet have also actually
assured Modi of their loyalty." Bimal Shah, an outspoken rebel
parliamentarian who had hoped to get a cabinet posting,
concurred. He said the rebels realized that the central BJP
leadership is firmly with Modi, while rebel leader Patel is old
and weakening. Shah conceded to us that he and several other
key rebels had decided it is in their own best interests to make
peace with Modi.

[...]

9. (C) Our sources, including journalist Mahurkar, tell us the
chief minister further alienated urban middle class Hindu voters
by granting a cabinet post to a shady and controversial OBC
leader named Purushottam Solanki, who is wanted by the Mumbai
police in various extortion cases...

Eyes on The National Stage
--------------------------

10. (C) Despite the shenanigans in Gujarat local politics, it is
clear Modi has his eyes on bigger things. His governing style
has its appeal among a nationwide set of conservative Hindus,
and that could translate into growing power in the national BJP.
Moreover, in a BJP beset by internal struggles, Modi's revival
sets him up nicely to influence the king making when the time
comes. Having recovered from the crisis invoked by our visa
revocation and his tyrannical management style, Modi is
positioning himself as a national leader by reminding people
that Gujarat has done a fine job of economic governance,
notwithstanding the black stain the riots left. When the
Gurgaon riots broke out in Congress-ruled Haryana, Modi
published full-page ads in the major national broadsheets to
remind voters everywhere that Gujarat had model labor relations,
sound macroeconomic policies, terrific infrastructure, and
responsible local government. Modi's face and name were
prominent in these costly pokes in the Congress' eye. Moreover,
Modi can crow to the nation that the respected newsmagazine
"India Today" just named Gujarat among the best-run states...

[...]

CHEATHAM

If we look at what is happening over a decade later in BJP at the National level, the pattern continues. Today we notice Jaswant Singh's exit, but less realized is the almost complete marginalization of BJP leaders with mass followings of their own built over years. There is a callous dismissal of allies who won't toe lines disrupting linkages built over decades by other leaders, while new relationships are being seeked. So for those who believe in BJP as opposed to the Narendra Modi cult, what you see happening here is basically a wipeout of BJP.

Chilling Effects

Without Modi yet being in power, the massive business clout and the financial power as well as control it brings (*cough* Ambani Adani Tata *cough*) has resulted in the near complete decimation of Indian media to the point of news of crucial importance in a democracy where people's votes are manipulated or outright conned does not reach people due to a complete blackout.

Exposes of paid Social Media services to manipulate elections died. Both media and government failed to hold Modi accountable over misuse of state machinery to spy on a woman once a token statement by her father was issued that he had asked for it. The complete lack of explanations on several issues raised fails to see media hold the questions in public attention. Newspapers that have taken prominent leftist stands in the past are keeping a low key, being reinvented into more neutral (read compliant) entities or are completely destroyed or even facing potential corporate takeovers.

Modi today said in a speech that he would give the people ten times what Indira Gandhi gave, and this is an eerie premonition of an Emergency declared in media where content must toe lines - without people even knowing that it has been declared. And this is him campaigning. Not even ruling yet.

Caravan story on Narendra Modi

The superb story on Narendra Modi's life in Caravan is a must read for its painstaking research into Modi's life. It is a story of an ambitious man who is not a team player, to put it very mildly. It details the relentlessness with which Modi has decimated enemies within the BJP and is a chilling view of the manner in which Modi pursues power. Read the Caravan story on Narendra Modi - The Emperor Uncrowned

.... many more links coming up, as I get time. Keep checking back...