New Delhi: In a dramatic turn in the Bharatiya Janata Party presidential polls, Nitin Gadkari has announced that he will not seek a second term after controversy erupted over his name. Rajnath Singh is now all set to occupy the party's top post as party leaders have reached a consensus on him as BJP President.
After defying intense pressure against himself by a large section of the BJP and denying all allegations related to his Purti group of companies, Nitin Gadkari finally chose to throw in the towel. "I will continue to serve as a soldier and will stand by whoever is elected as president," Gadkari said.
Through the day on Tuesday, as the Income Tax department started carrying out surveys of investments in Purti group, Gadkari remained confident. Even when party leader Yashwant Sinha, a known Gadkari detractor, teamed up with Mahesh Jethmalani and threatened to challenge Gadkari's presidential nomination, he was steadfast.
But it was at a meeting in mumbai, with senior BJP leader LK Advani and RSS leader Bhaiyaji Joshi, that Gadkari finally relented. Rajnath Singh initially was the second choice for the RSS as the RSS was adamant till the end to back Gadkari.
As controversies swirled around Gadkari on Tuesday, a serious attempt was made by the BJP leadership to work out an alternative. In Delhi, senior BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley went into a huddle with RSS leader Ram Lal. In Mumbai, at the meeting between Gadkari, Advani and Bhaiyaji Joshi, Advani stated bluntly that he wasn't in favour of Gadkari.
Gadkari himself suggested that if there was no consensus on him, Rajnath Singh can be the BJP President. The anti-Gadkari camp in BJP felt vindicated with this move. "It is something good, which is happening. I hope that the people and BJP will realise the advice that I gave long ago was a sound advice. I feel more than vindicated," BJP leader and lawyer Ram Jethmalani said.
But for a party which claims to challenge the Congress in the next general elections, inability to chose a president of its own choice after issuing a notification bears ominous signs for the future.
Is Rajnath Singh better than Nitin Gadkari for the post?
In his previous presidential tenure, Rajnath Singh was accused of promoting factionalism within the BJP. Nitin Gadkari on the other hand was considered a lightweight all through to be leading a national party.
Under Rajnath Singh, the party failed to grow even in his own home state of Uttar Pradesh. Gadkari led the BJP alliance to a royal loss in Maharashtra, yet became the national president thereafter.
Rajnath Singh does not get on well with the likes of Arun Jaitley and other potential future faces of the BJP. Gadkari on his part couldn't manage the trust of his colleagues once the Purti group allegations came to light.