Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah, who is credited with taking the party's membership to a new high and leading it to power in four states, was today elected unopposed for a new term with Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading party bigwigs in his endorsement.
Modi, a number of his cabinet colleagues, including Rajnath Singh, M Venkaiah Naidu and Nitin Gadkari besides BJP chief ministers among others proposed Shah's name during the nomination process in which no other leader joined the fray.
Party veterans, including L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, who have in past expressed their unhappiness with 51-year-old Shah's stewardship, were conspicuous by their absence at its headquarters as its almost entire top national and state leaders lined up to greet him.
Shah's unanimous election for a three-year term is in line with the party's tradition of choosing its president with a consensus, an outcome virtually guaranteed after Modi and
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the party's ideological mentor which has always had a say in the matter, threw their weight behind his continuance.
Modi, who was not present during the exercise due to official engagements, will attend the parliamentary board meeting, likely on January 28, to welcome Shah in his new innings.
Modi congratulated Shah on his re-election and voiced confidence that the party will scale newer heights under his leadership.
"Congratulations to Shri @AmitShah on being elected BJP president. I am confident the Party will scale newer heights under his leadership," Modi tweeted.
"Amit Bhai combines grassroot-level work & rich organisational experience which will benefit the Party immensely," Modi said in another post.
Altogether, 17 nominations were filed proposing the Gujarat leader's name during the three-hour nomination exercise, party vice president Avinash Rai Khanna, who was the chief electoral officer, said as he announced his unopposed election.
All BJP chief ministers, barring the one from Haryana, who was busy in an official engagement, and its state party presidents were present, reflecting the virtually total support Shah commanded.
This will be the first full three-year term for the Gujarat leader, seen to have full backing of Modi, as he had taken over as party chief in July 2014 after his predecessor Rajnath Singh joined the government, weeks after he crafted the BJP’s strategy in UP to help it win 71 of 80 Lok Sabha seats.
Seen as a close confidante of Modi, he pushed the BJP's primary membership to beyond 11 crore from the earlier less than three crore, according to official party figures, and led its emergence as the biggest political force in Maharashtra and Haryana for the first time. It is in power in both the states
He also led the party to victory in Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir but some of the sheen of his leadership wore off after it suffered crushing defeats in Delhi and Bihar assembly elections, sparking some rumblings within.
However, his aides have argued that he remains the best bet for the party as it faces elections in five states this year and the crucial Uttar Pradesh polls next.
Image: Children blowing conch as flower petals being showered on Amit Shah after he was re-elected as the BJP president, in New Delhi on Sunday. Photograph: PTI