It is difficult for party workers to match Amit Shah’s energy and fast pace of walking, as the current chief of the Ahmedabad BJP unit hits the campaign trail across the Ellisbridge Assembly constituency. Shah is adamant that AAP won’t make a dent at any of Ahmedabad city’s 16 Assembly seats. He is also confident of personally winning by over 80,000 votes. And, no, it is not the Union Home Minister we are talking about. This is Amit Popatlal Shah, the former 63-year-old mayor of Ahmedabad.
But not everything seems smooth going for Shah. At a Navrangpura rally on November 23, Shah covered nearly four kilometres on foot across residential societies as part of his pre-poll outreach. The public reception was, however, mixed, often lukewarm. At New Asmita Apartment, past the Commerce Six Roads Metro station, a resident angrily shooed away Shah and his entourage. Shah quickly apologised and made a U-turn from the society.
Taking a leaf out of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, Shah is walking 18,000 steps every day and even after the election plans to keep his jan sampark going on Sundays. If voted to power, he also plans to share booklets of the work he has got done through the year, every year with the public.
A lawyer by qualification who never practised, Shah was accompanied by his family—daughter and wife—at the rally. A party loyalist, he has been a councillor at AMC for five consecutive terms, holding various posts—OCTROI chairman, water supply vice-chairman, member of the AMC standing committee for five years during Congress rule in AMC, and Leader of the Opposition from 2000 to 2005.
Notably, Amit Shah, the mayor, was a deputy accountant with Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank, where Amit Shah the current Union Home Minister was chairman in 2005.
With declared moveable and immovable assets totalling Rs 3.15 crores, Shah also faces a criminal case for attacking activist Medha Patkar in 2002 during the Narmada Bachao Andolan. The trial is still ongoing before an Ahmedabad magistrate’s court.
Ellisbridge has been a prestige seat for the BJP, with PM Modi having aspired for the seat once. The party has maintained control over the seat since 1998. As the city BJP chief, Shah is also tasked with managing wins in all 16 Assembly constituencies within the city’s jurisdiction.