Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is strongly defending party president Nitin Gadkari, leaders are gearing up to handle more such allegations.
While the leaders conceded ‘internal leaks’ could be the source of these allegations, they hinted Gadkari’s rivals in the party, who didn’t want him to get a second term, could be behind the leaks.
The BJP had recently amended its constitution to allow consecutive terms for its president. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will now take a decision on Gadkari’s second term.
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According to senior party leaders, there is a “definite pattern” in the allegations, which started just months before Gadkari was expected to start his second term as BJP president. They point out that the information being reported has been on the website of Gadkari’s company and with the Corporate Affairs ministry for a long time.
“Gadkari was the PWD minister in Maharashtra in 1999 and allegations are being made after 13 years. The timing of the allegations is also important because Gadkari is expected to become the first two-term BJP President in the near future,” said a close aide. The BJP president is expected to finish his first three-year term in December and the next term will start from January 2013.
Under pressure by the consistent allegations against Gadkari, senior RSS leaders had recently met senior BJP leaders including L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, and Murli Manohar Joshi to get their views on the possible second term to Gadkari.
Most of the seniors and some BJP chief ministers, including Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, are not in favour of a second term to Gadkari, as they want a more politically active person to take charge of the party before the Lok Sabha elections. Modi favours former BJP president Rajnath Singh as the party president.
“If there is a vacant post in the party, what is wrong if two or more people try to get that top post? When senior leaders of BJP are consulted on the possible second-term to Nitin Gadkari, they give their honest opinion and there is nothing wrong in that. It is not wrong to have an independent opinion on an issue,” said a senior leader.
During the national executive meeting in Mumbai, Advani and Swaraj were reportedly annoyed with the decision to give a second-term to Gadkari. They also skipped a crucial meeting of BJP leaders to mark their displeasure. Sources say many senior leaders eye the president’s post. “If the allegations continue, and they get proved, then it is going to be difficult for Gadkari to get a second term,” said one BJP leader. Gadkari has already said that he is ready to face investigation by any agency.
Initially, when the RSS had started scouting for BJP president in November-December 2009, the RSS leadership had first offered the post to Modi and then to Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar, since Gadkari was not the first choice.