It was an year(2019) that virtually belonged to one man in Indian politics. Notwithstanding what it goes to unfold in the 2020. And that man was none other than the Union Home minister Amit Shah who emerged from a rabble rousing persona to an iron-fisted law maker ushering in changes which had remained in a kind of hibernation for decades.
On the driver’s seat
Not only Shah piloted the juggernaut of change, but went miles to demonstrate that, he is the man in the making to undertake charges and become the most dependable handle for the saffron elites from Nagpur.
Among many crucial initiatives taken by him as the Home Minister in 2019, the impact of the changes in Jammu & Kashmir through the abrogation of the Article 370 and 35 A through the J&K(re-organisation)Act 2019. Perhaps, that is going to be remembered at a historic one despite nationwide critical reaction towards the step.
And the second, yet the most jittery, Citizenship Amendment Act, giving way to one of the major peoples’ protest in recent memory. An Act that is perceived through several prisms making it difficult for the Home Minister. Shah today finds himself in a situation from where a pushback would be equally risky as the continuation of the CAA push.
However, in recently-concluded Winter Session of the Parliament, the Home Ministry brought the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill which sparked off nationwide protests. A protest that still persists leaving the smolders smoking still.
The Act, passed by Parliament, bifurcated the State into two separate Union Territories. Before the introduction of the Bill in the Rajya Sabha on August 5, the Home Ministry deployed huge para- military forces in the Kashmir Valley with a complete clamp down on communication and detained hundreds of people including three former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti with whom the BJP had formed a coalition Government in the state.
Lives have been lost and according to inputs available so far, about 20 people have died in the anti-CAA protests in several parts but the repercussions seen in the BJP ruled states have remained worse.
The deep ‘divide’
The CAA provides citizenship to the prosecuted members of Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Jain, Parsi and Buddhist communities who have come to India from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh till December 31,2014.
Besides, important legislations that were successfully pushed by the Ministry include National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Act, 2019, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019, Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which aim to increase operational efficiency of SPG in ensuring the security of the Prime Minister alone during the office.
Other crucial legislations piloted by the MHA and passed by Parliament include Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu (Merger of Union Territories) Bill, 2019, aiming at the administrative efficiency, better service delivery and effective implementation of both central and state government schemes.
The Home Ministry also got the Parliament’s nod on the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019 by which Centre may declare any individual as a terrorist. The Ministry released the new map of India showing Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) as a part of newly created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit – Baltistan as a part of Ladakh UT as a sovereign part of India.
Shah owned up 2019
The Ministry’s decision to withdraw SPG security cover from Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra evoked a strong reaction from the Congress.
The Gandhi family members have been provided the CRPF Z-plus security cover. The Kartarpur corridor for Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan with visa free movement of Indian pilgrims was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November on the occasion of the 550 birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the first Sikh Guru.
All said and done, not that Amit Shah shot himself up to the pulpit of the affairs but, in contrast, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image took a noticeable beating when he resorted to a spiritual crutch on the issue of CAA & NRC.
What has amazed many Modi critics is the recent twitter campaign by Modi when he was found piggy-back riding on the spiritual man the Sadhguru making himself look like a moral harbinger for the prime minister.