New Delhi: Hours after reports suggested that the race for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president could turn into a bitter battle with speculations of veteran party leader Yashwant Sinha joining the fray, sources in the party ruled out any contest.
According to sources, Hazaribagh MP Yashwant Sinha only took the nomination papers, but is unlikely to contest against RSS-backed Nitin Gadkari. They further said that there won't be any election for the party president and the current president would be chosen for a second term by consensus.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj mat Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley on Tuesday evening. The two senior leaders met over the internal crisis with the BJP.
Speculations of a contest during the BJP presidential elections on Wednesday were sparked after Yashwant Sinha's aide took the nomination papers from the BJP office on Tuesday for the election.
The move was seen as a huge loss of face for Gadkari as his camp is not only confident of a win, but also hopes that he will be elected unopposed. Senior BJP leaders LK Advani and party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad had, however, refused to comment on the presidential election.
Gadkari is backed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which has been dictating how the BJP should be run since the party's inception. If Gadkari was challenged then it would have been a huge setback for the RSS. The RSS's hold over the BJP would have weakened which Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat would never want.
So despite a galaxy of leaders like Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and former BJP president Rajnath Singh, the RSS has been insisting on Gadkari. Even though a section of the BJP leadership is of the opinion that Gadkari does not have the stature to take over as the party chief and with allegations of corruption against firms linked to him surfacing, some of them have openly come out against him.
The development came on a day when the Mumbai Income Tax wing surveyed seven companies found to have been routing money into Gadkari's Purti Group after allegations against the companies surfaced in the Nagpur wing's probe. The Mumbai Income-Tax wing scanned the companies which have their addresses listed in Mumbai. After the Mumbai wing finishes the verification, the Nagpur wing will take the probe forward.
Meanwhile, on Monday, another BJP leader, Mahesh Jethmalani had threatened to contest the elections for the party president if Gadkari was made the official candidate. He had said, "There are many better candidates than Gadkari...particularly when the elections are so imminent."
BJP returning officer Thawar Chand Gehlot had also said, "Any person who's a BJP member can contest elections for Presidential post. A person on behalf of Mahesh Jethmalani has contacted me for contesting elections, have asked him to contact me with all details required."