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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will follow the writ of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) when it amends its constitution to allow party President Nitin Gadkari an unprecedented second consecutive term.
Except the RSS, none of the senior leaders of the party was in favour of allowing Gadkari a second term. Their views, however, were not appreciated by the RSS leadership, which wanted Gadkari to get a second term. Gadkari’s term ends in December this year. The amendment will allow him to remain as BJP president for another three-year term — January 2013 to December 2015.
The crucial decision also means Gadkari would lead the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, though there is a view in the party that the campaign committee for elections should be headed by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who would be able to mobilise voters and enthuse the party cadre.
During the party’s national council meeting in Surajkund on Friday, senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh moved the resolution to amend Article 21 of the BJP constitution. The move was seconded by former party president M Venkaiah Naidu. Members of the national council approved the resolution unanimously. The amendment was passed by the BJP at its national executive in Mumbai in May, and then it was decided the national council meeting would ratify it.
While the amendment was being ratified by the members of the national executive, Naidu elaborated the passage of the resolution did not mean the incumbent would automatically get a second term, but it was only an enabling provision.
Though most senior party leaders, including L K Advani and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, are not in favour of the move, the RSS is adamant to give Gadkari a second term.
A section within the party not pleased with the development feels the constitution of a political party must not be changed for the benefit of one individual, and it should be an unanimous decision taken by the organisation.
This is the second time the BJP’s constitution has been changed.
The first instance was in 2006, when the RSS wanted Rajnath Singh to continue in office for three years. Before Singh took over from Advani as BJP president, the top post had a two-year term. Advani was asked to resign mid-term from the post of party president after his statements made during his Pakistan visit created a lot of controversy. Singh was asked to take charge for the remaining year and was later made BJP president in January 2006.
That year onwards, the tenure of the party president was increased to three years after an amendment in the BJP constitution.