Nitin Gadkari’s second term ???

There has been a lot of speculation in the media on whether Nitin Gadkari will get a second term as the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party. While some of the major newspapers have indicated that the possibility looked very strong given that the Sangh Parivar has not been able to find any alternative name, nothing can be said with certainty as yet.

There is little doubt that Gadkari enjoys the full backing of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh Chief Mohan Bhagwat and some of his rivals have a hand in making the Purti affair into a big scandal. But what is going against him is that a perception, rightly or wrongly has been created that he has a lot to answer so far as his business deals are concerned.

It is precisely because of this reason that the RSS could have second thoughts in nominating him for the second term since his continuation will give a handle to the BJP’s opponents to strike at the saffron brigade. The election in Himachal Pradesh is being cited as an example in party circles when the BJP strategists tried to make corruption as an issue against Virbhadra Singh knowing fully well that the charges were unsubstantiated. But once the Gadkari affair came into limelight, the corruption issue boomeranged and the party faced some embarrassing moments and had to ensure that Gadkari’s role in the campaign became negligible. So if this could happen in a small state like Himachal what would happen to the party’s image if the perception about the charges does not change in other elections? The BJP will be a loser in this fight from the very beginning.

In Gadkari’s defence one can easily say that he has been successful in checkmating many others in his party who have had unquestioned loyalty to its tallest leader L.K.Advani and thus were acting as a part of his (Advani’s) coterie rather than in the larger interests of the organization. In other words, the party was sought to be hijacked by the Advani group and the opinion of everyone else even if it was the majority view went unheard and unattended. To that degree, Gadkari was able to counter some of the plans, which did not have endorsement of the Sangh Parivar. But at the same time, he has little understanding of national politics because primarily he has been a state player and thus is unable to cope with his more experienced partymen who have all the familiarity about the bad and wicked ways of Delhi’s political arena.

Gadkari finds himself pitted against Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi, Narendra Modi, Yashwant Sinha, Jaswant Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Venkaih Naidu and many others. It is also true that this opposition will peter out once the RSS endorses his second term but the intrigue will continue.

It is being said that the RSS and some leaders of the BJP are looking for a compromise formula which could lead to the installation of either Joshi or Shanta Kumar as the party chief as part of a holding on operation in order to prevent a civil war from erupting in the organization. But whatever has to happen, the Sangh Parivar should take a decision either way to settle the leadership issue within the BJP. Otherwise the party will continue to reel under its own factional fights and thus will not be able to challenge even a weakened Congress.

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