Amit Shah, many concede, is pragmatic enough to tweak his working style to suit the requirements in Delhi

NEW DELHI: With BJP chief Amit Shah , Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most trusted lieutenant, getting charge of the crucial home portfolio, seamless synergy can be expected between the PMO and the ministry on internal security and other key policy matters.

The leadership change in the high-profile ministry is expected to usher in a certain decisiveness and an iron-handed approach to terror, insurgency and secessionism. Shah, through his career, has come forth as a hardcore nationalist unflinching in his pursuit of whatever he perceives as crucial to national security. In his first stint in the Modi government, he will strive to live up to his core beliefs not just because he is not known to backtrack, but also because his new role will be crucial for his future career trajectory.

Shah’s predecessor Rajnath Singh too subscribed to nationalist views. Yet, the two are quite different. Singh, who was conscious of his image and valued consensus, would sometimes fight shy of taking measures seen as tough and confrontational. Shah is unlikely to be squeamish about resorting to a more unsparing approach where ideological ends are concerned.

As home minister under Modi in Gujarat, Shah had presided over a policy that many saw as hard yet successful, though critics slammed it as “trigger-happy”. Of course, Shah did not bother much about the criticism. One can expect a similar approach in his stint as Union home minister.

Take for instance the Centre’s policy in J&K. While Singh too had given a free hand to security forces in the state, leading to heavy casualties among terrorists, Shah is likely to be more proactive and lead from the front. His immediate challenge is to keep up the pressure on terrorists and ensure an incident-free Amarnath Yatra. Security and development initiatives are likely to be pushed in J&K ahead of assembly elections in October-November. His role as home minister may also bring clarity on how the Centre wants to address the issue of Article 35A.

An immediate challenge before Shah will be completion of the NRC exercise in Assam within the deadline set by the Supreme Court. Also, he faces the task of getting the Citizenship Bill passed by Rajya Sabha, while ensuring that this does not cause unrest in Assam and other north-eastern states.

Under Shah, central forces can be expected to make further inroads into Naxal bastions while placing no premium on holding talks with insurgents/secessionists where their demands impinge on sovereignty or constitutional parameters.

Shah may need to adopt an approach different from his stint in Gujarat. The Centre is a different pitch altogether, complete with its elaborate network of rules and institutional arrangements, requiring a Union minister to take the states and agencies along. He will have to be more accommodating of the views of police forces and agencies while taking decisions.

Shah, many concede, is pragmatic enough to tweak his working style to suit the requirements in Delhi. This was apparent as he led negotiations as BJP president on political alliances, relenting on issues and opting for tactical pacts for larger gains.

However, the calibration cannot be at the cost of his core conviction. Shah, a Veer Savarkar admirer, wears his nationalistic ideology on his sleeve. He is perhaps the only politician who has a portrait of Savarkar in his living room alongside a portrait of Chanakya, the master of wise counsel and diplomacy. He is expected to heed Chanakya in his pursuit of Savarkar’s goals.