New Delhi: Nitin Gadkari, who was being backed by the RSS, on Tuesday saw himself being opposed by one of the senior most leaders in the party, LK Advani. Gadkari, who till Monday, had the support of party leaders for a second stint as the BJP President, opted out of the race after a meeting with Advani and RSS leader Bhaiyaji Joshi.
In Mumbai, at the meeting between Gadkari, Advani and Bhaiyaji Joshi, Advani stated that he wasn't in favour of Gadkari. Sources say that while Nitin Gadkari proposed Rajnath Singh's name as an alternative at the meeting. Rajnath Singh had been accused by party members of factionalism during his tenure in 2009 as the BJP President, and was therefore, not one of the frontrunners in the race for becoming the BJP President.
However, reports say Advani remained adamant on any candidate other than Gadkari for the post of the party chief. There were murmurs within BJP about Advani and his team being unhappy with Gadkari being given a second term in the wake of charges of dubious funding of the Purti Group with which he has been associated in the past.
This came even as earlier there were reports that it was Advani who mediated truce between Gadkari and his detractor Ram Jethmalani. Sources had said that Advani had changed his mind and agreed to Gadkari's re-election. However, fresh Income Tax surveys on companies funding Gadkari's Purti group made things worse for Gadkari, with Advani going totally against Gadkari being re-elected. Following the meeting, Gadkari opted out of the race saying, "I do not wish that this should in any way adversely affect the interest of the BJP. I have, therefore, decided not to seek a second term as the president of the BJP."
The Income Tax authorities created unease for Gadkari and his camp when they conducted on-field inquiries on some "shell" companies which had invested in Purti Power and Sugar Limited. Gadkari came out with a prompt statement condemning these inquiries by the I-T authorities as "calculated, mischievous and politically motivated".