Bharata Janata Party chief Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday got some respite as senior leaders of the party — minus L.K. Advani — reaffirmed their support for him after party MP Ram Jethmalani made a strong pitch for his resignation.
However, the BJP chief has little to cheer as more party leaders came out openly questioning his ability to lead the party.
The decision of Mr. Advani to stay away from the meeting triggered frenzied speculations in the electronic media. Senior party leaders maintained that nothing much should be read into it as Mr. Advani chose not to attend the meeting as he had earlier been “briefed” extensively by the concerned leaders on the issue.
Their contention was that since Mr. Jethmalani had written to Mr. Advani, and who in turn had forwarded it to the party leadership to dwell on it, he did not want to be a party to the meeting to consider it.
Ever since questions have been raised by the anti-corruption activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal in the third week of October on the business practices of a company owned by him, Mr. Gadkari has been under pressure from influential sections within the BJP to quit as the party president.
Thanks to the backing of the RSS and senior leaders such as L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj, the BJP president survived. The campaign within the party against Mr. Gadkari is widely perceived as a power struggle among senior leaders with an eye on the 2014 election.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley have not come forward in defence of Mr. Gadkari. The term of Mr. Gadkari as the party president is scheduled to end in the last week of December.