Out of jail, Narendra Modi's man Amit Shah lords over Naranpura

Amit Shah

He may be one of Gujarat's most controversial figures, facing the charge of plotting the murder of alleged gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh in a fake police encounter, but Chief Minister Narendra Modi's Man Friday Amit Shah is more loved than feared in Naranpur.

The portly Shah, a key strategist in 'Team Modi', is locked with Congress' Jeetu Bhai Patel, who crossed over from BJP weeks ahead of the Assembly elections, in an electoral battle he is expected to win hands down in this BJP bastion.

Though there are 23 candidates vying for the Naranpura assembly seat, it is a straight contest between Shah and Patel, belonging to the two dominant communities in the constituency with an electorate of little over 2.

13 lakh. Shah was allowed to enter Gujarat this September by the the Supreme Court, nearly two years after his arrest on July 25, 2010, when he was charged with the murder, extortion, kidnapping besides five other sections of IPC in connection with the killing of Sheikh in an allegedly fake encounter and subsequently eliminating his wife Kausar Bi and associate Tulsiram Prajapati.

Sheikh allegedly ran an extortion racket with the help of senior police officers and four IPS officers including D G Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandian, Abhay Chudasama and Dinesh M N, apart from eight other officers of lesser rank are under arrest in the case.

The gory details of these extra-judicial killings may not give a good account of Shah as a politician, but for an overwhelming majority of voters in this urban, middle and high-middle class locality of Ahmedabad city, Shah is regarded as a "saviour".

"We don't believe he had hatched the conspiracy to eliminate Sohrabuddin and others but even if he did, he played the saviour for Hindus. The AK 47 rifles, hand grenades and bullets recovered from Sohhrabuddin's place would have been used against us," says Hemang Bhai, a realtor.

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