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Rajnath may be next BJP President

Should more scandals tumble out of the closet against Gadkari, he may have to step aside.

MADHAV NALAPAT  NEW DELHI | 27th Oct 2012

P leader Rajnath Singh is emerging as the silent choice to replace Nitin Gadkari as the BJP President. BJP leaders admit that the allegations against Gadkari are more hype than content, but they accept that the media assault on Gadkari has weakened him. BJP leaders and workers believe that they will not be able to use the next Parliament session to assault Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, as long as Gadkari remains party chief.

Gadkari's supporters want him to offer his resignation to the BJP Core Committee. "The best outcome for the party is if he quits on his own, but indications are that he wants to stay on, and even get a second three-year term," a senior BJP MP said. According to him, Advani, Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and M.M. Joshi were privately appalled at Gadkari's business dealings, but were hesitant to ask him to quit, "so long as he continues to have RSS backing".

The Gadkari camp believes that "the electoral wind is blowing in the BJP's favour", according to a Maharashtra leader, and "he (Gadkari) wants to be the king-maker if not the king, should the BJP be able to lead the next government in 2014". According to this source, "only Nitin Gadkari is 100% trusted by the RSS leadership", which is why he "continues to enjoy their support".

However, an RSS functionary reiterated that "the organisation has no favourites" but would like the BJP to "sort out its leadership squabbles expeditiously, so as to ensure a good showing in the coming polls". The RSS, aware of the importance of preventing the Congress from achieving a hat-trick by winning the coming general election as well, "is reluctant to push for major changes that could rock the boat", according to this leader. As for Gadkari, the BJP chief "enjoys a good rapport with Nagpur (RSS headquarters) and is in daily contact with senior RSS leaders, unlike other BJP leaders, who contact Nagpur only in times of need". According to this individual, "Gadkari informs (the senior RSS leadership) about his actions, whereas in the past, Nagpur knew about changes usually from the media".

A BJP office-bearer from Maharashtra said that "workers in the state are angry that Ajay Sancheti (a businessman) was fielded fowr the Rajya Sabha from that state, in preference to Jayawantiben (Mehta) and Kirit Somaiya". Another BJP office-bearer pointed out that "revolts have broken out in many states, especially Rajasthan and Karnataka, under Gadkari's leadership", while the party did miserably in UP.

Should more scandals tumble out of the closet against Gadkari, he may have to step aside after his present term ends. While the media is abuzz about Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj being the favourites for replacing Gadkari, soundings within the BJP reveal that former UP Chief Minister (and BJP president) Rajnath Singh may emerge as the "dark horse" choice. His asset is that it is inconceivable that Rajnath Singh would ever be a serious candidate for the Prime Ministership of the country. Hence, he would be acceptable to other senior leaders such as Jaitley and Swaraj.

 
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