On a day the national focus was on the All India Congress Committee session in Jaipur, the BJP notified the election for its top post – party president (the nomination is to be filed on January 23 and voting, if necessary, will be held on a date to be fixed later) which paves the way for a second term for Nitin Gadkari.
A consecutive second term, unprecedented in the 32-year history of the party, is a telling commentary on the grip of the RSS over the BJP’s affairs.
It is the blessing of the Sangh Parivar that helped Mr. Gadkari sail through a storm against his leadership, partly triggered by charges of irregularities in a firm owned by him.
Senior leader and prime ministerial candidate in the last Lok Sabha election L.K. Advani made a last-minute attempt to stall Mr. Gadkari’s return but he was forced to reconcile to the prospect after a categorical message by the RSS that its protégé deserved another stint.
Mr. Advani had made known his displeasure over a second term for Mr. Gadkari at the Mumbai National Executive in May last where the proposal for an amendment to the BJP constitution to allow a second consecutive term to the president was approved. The National Council formally endorsed it at its Surajkund session in September. Despite the writing on the wall, the Gadkari baiters sensed a chance to dislodge him following charges of dubious funding in the Purti Group with which he was associated.
A shrill campaign on the basis of the charge that the BJP could ill afford to fight the next general election with a tainted president at the helm cut no ice with the RSS.