New Delhi: In a dramatic twist to the battle for the next president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), former party chief Rajnath Singh has emerged as the frontrunner for the post. According to sources, Nitin Gadkari has opted out of the race, telling RSS leader Bhaiyaji Joshi that he favours the former party chief if there is no consensus on his name.
Notably, veteran leader LK Advani had earlier rejected the name of Rajnath Singh. However, hectic meetings were held in the national capital to reach the decision. Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley held talks with RSS leader Ram Lal.
According to top sources within the BJP, the entire Delhi-based central leadership and a large section of the RSS favour Rajnath Singh as the next president of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
This came hours after speculations of senior leader Yashwant Sinha joining the fray. However, later sources said the Hazaribagh MP only took the nomination papers, but was unlikely to contest.
How Rajnath Singh made it past Nitin Gadkari
According to sources, former BJP president Rajnath Singh was the second choice for the RSS, and as controversies swirled around current president Nitin Gadkari, serious attempts were made by the BJP leadership to work out an alternative.
However, the RSS was adamant till the end to back Gadkari. At the meeting between Gadkari, veteran leader LK Advani and RSS leader Bhaiyaji Joshi, the former deputy prime minister stated bluntly that he was not in favour of Gadkari.
Will continue to serve my party: Nitin Gadkari
Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday evening backed away from the BJP presidential elections citing allegations of dubious funding he has been facing, related to his company Purti Group.
"I do not wish that this should in any way adversely affect the interest of the BJP," Gadkari, who had been the frontrunner in the race for party's presidentship, said Tuesday night. "I have, therefore, decided not to seek a second term as the president of the BJP," Gadkari, who took over the party's reins in December 2009, said.
55-year-old Gadkari clarified his stand on the dubious funding of Purti Group saying, "I have committed no wrong or any impropriety either directly or indirectly. I shall continue to serve my party as a committed worker. I have conveyed my decision to my colleagues."