New Delhi: Putting an end to all speculations over party chief Nitin Gadkari’s resignation over the corruption allegations against him, the Bharatiya Janata Party late on Friday night announced that it stands by its president and doesn’t want him to step down. "The party is fully behind Nitin Gadkari and all reports about his resignation are wrong," party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters after the BJP core group meeting ended.
Javadekar told media that Gadkari had an informal meeting with senior party leader LK Advani at his residence on Friday. Other senior leaders like Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and party general secretaries also attended the meeting. Earlier, there were reports that Gadkari had told Advani that he will abide by the decision taken by the party.
Reiterating that Gadkari will not resign as the BJP president, Javadekar said that the party chief will begin his tour in poll-bound Himachal Pradesh as scheduled. "He will reach Himachal Pradesh tomorrow (Saturday) to campaign for the party," Javadekar said.
Gadkari has been under the scanner since activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal in a press conference made corruption allegations against him. Sources said on Friday that the Corporate Affairs Ministry also found prima facie proof of irregularities by Gadkari's Purti group. Sources said that the income tax returns filed by the Purti group and other investor companies indicated irregularities in their business transactions. The Mumbai Registrar of Companies is probing 15 companies which have links with Gadkari. Sources also said that the money trail has been led to Kolkata and the companies have been given two weeks to explain.
This came amidst allegations against Gadkari's firms being run as shell companies with fake addresses. The BJP president has been at the centre of a raging controversy over funding of his firm Purti power and Sugar Ltd with media reports claiming that major investments and large loans to Purti were made by Ideal Road Builders (IRB) group, which had won contracts between 1995 and 1999, when he was the PWD minister in Maharashtra.
Earlier in the day, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in a statement said that it had nothing to do with the allegations against Gadkari. "RSS has nothing to do with any of the allegations. It is saddened by the efforts aimed at dragging Sangh's name in this," said the statement released by RSS general secretary Suresh Bhaiya Joshi. The Sangh contended that the fight against corruption should be waged at a non-political and non-partisan level.
The statement came against the backdrop of media reports that the RSS was trying to defend Gadkari, who is seeking another term as the BJP president. "In the last few days, the media has been making allegations about certain irregularities in the corporate affairs of some political leaders. These allegations have caused a lot of consternation in the general public," said the statement.
The RSS also called for an impartial probe into the matter saying that the Sangh believes that any individual or organisation indulging in any illegal activity "must be subjected to impartial probe...all those found guilty be punished". In the statement, Joshi said that the allegations have been levelled by the media only and an authorised agency is yet to look into these.