New Delhi: In a dramatic late night twist on Tuesday, Nitin Gadkari opted out of the BJP presidential race and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Rajnath Singh is now the consensus choice and will be elected later on Wednesday. Nitin Gadkari's backers in RSS had come under intense pressure from within the BJP when the Income Tax department turned the screws on the party president over his controversial dealings with the Purti group. Senior party leader Yashwant Sinha had even threatened to enter the fray.
But the former UP chief minister defied all odds to reclaim the party's top post in three years. Rajnath Singh, who was the education minister in Kalyan Singh's first government, in the last two decades has risen up the ranks from unsparing politics on UP's hinterland.
As the UP state BJP president in 1990s, he was crucial in mustering numbers for the Kalyan Singh government. Soon he was challenging the BJP's Ram Mandir mascot to become the chief minister of the state.
Rajnath also worked as a cabinet minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, but the big leap came after the 2004 elections and RSS's disenchantment with Advani. With Pramod Mahajan by his side, he was made the president in 2006.
But during his tenure, infighting grew within the BJP and in 2009, with most Delhi leaders opposing him, he was replaced by Gadkari.
The thakur from Mirzapur bided his time, lurking in the sidelines. He remained RSS's second choice for the BJP President's post as pressure on Gadkari mounted after the Purti controversy, to emerge from the shadows and reclaim the top post.