BJP’s first stint in political power in Gujarat was relatively short lived as the party that stormed into power in 1995 fell in 1997. Yet, during this short period, Amit Bhai, who was made the chairman of Gujarat State Financial Corporation, turned around the company and even got it listed on the Stock Exchanges. This was also Amit Bhai’s first foray into the election arena, as in the by- election that followed the fall of BJP government; he successfully contested assembly polls from Sarkhej winning the seat by a margin of nearly 25,000 votes. Realizing the pressing need to regain the confidence of voters and mandate from the people, Amit Bhai dedicated himself to the task of strengthening the party in the state. At the same time, he continued to discharge his duties as a MLA and even won from the same seat by over 1.30 lakh votes in 1998.
A key achievement of Amit Bhai’s political career was breaking the stranglehold of the Congress over Gujarat’s cooperative movement, which was a source of electoral strength and influence. In 1998, barring a single Cooperative Bank, all other cooperative institutions were controlled by the Congress. This was set to change as thanks to Amit Bhai’s political acumen and ability to carry people along, BJP started to win elections for cooperative banks, milk dairies, and agriculture market committees. These successive victories established BJP political strength and influence in rural and semi-rural areas. His success though was not limited to electoral affairs. Under his Chairmanship, the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank, the largest district cooperative bank in Asia – turned profitable in just one year. The bank also declared a dividend for the first time in a decade. Given his wide experience, and commendable success, Amit Bhai was made the national convener of BJP’s cooperative committee in 2001.
In 2002, as a prelude to the assembly elections, AmitBhai was made the co-organiser of the ‘Gaurav Yatra’. The party stormed into power in the state under Chief Minister Shri. Narendra Modi. This time too, Amit Bhai won his seat from the Sarkhej constituency for the third time in a row. This time, the margin of victory was even bigger at 1,58,036 votes. Amti Bhai was given the key ministries of Home, Transport, and Prohibition and his work as Gujarat Home Minister was much appreciated. His popularity and connect with people increased with time. In 2007, Sarkhej electorate again showered its blessings on Amit Bhai with a victory margin of a massive 2,32,832 votes. He returned to the state cabinet and was given responsibility of a number of key portfolios including Home, Transport, Prohibition, Parliamentary Affairs, Law, and Excise.
His policies were appreciated by many as going beyond the norms. An avid chess player himself, Amit Bhai became Chairman of Gujarat State Chess Association and introduced chess on a pilot project basis in Ahmedabad’s government schools. This resulted in making students more alert, raised their concentration levels and improved their problem solving abilities. In 2007, Shri Narendra Modi and AmitBhai became Chairman and Vice Chairman of Gujarat State Cricket Association, respectively and ended the 16-year old Congress domination. During this period, he was also Chairman of Ahmedabad Central Board of Cricket.