Nitin Gadkari was on Tuesday formally elected president of the Bharatiya Janata Party for a three-year term. The election completes the process which began post-Lok Sabha election debacle when Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat indicated that it was time younger leadership took charge of the BJP. Amid a shower of rose petals, general secretary Thawarchand Gehlot, who was the returning officer, declared Mr. Gadkari elected unopposed. As expected, all 13 sets of nominations were received in his favour.
The outgoing president, Rajnath Singh, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj and senior BJP leader L.K. Advani were present at the party office here, where the election took place. Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and the former presidents, Murli Manohar Joshi and M. Venkaiah Naidu, were among those who proposed Mr. Gadkari’s name. Mr. Jaitley and Mr. Joshi were not in Delhi.
The outcome was in no doubt, as according to the convention in the party, the president is first “selected” by consensus and consultations, and then “elected.” Later this month, Mr. Gadkari’s election will be ratified at the National Council session in Indore.Mr. Gadkari, in fact, took charge as president on December 19, 2009 itself, on completion of Mr. Rajnath Singh’s term.
Mr. Gehlot said organisational elections were completed in 19 States and would be over in the remaining 11 in the next few months. Under the party constitution, at least 50 per cent of the States have to be complete the State-level election process before the national president is elected. In all the 19 States, the election has been by “consensus” with not a single contest.
Price rise issue
Mr. Gadkari said he would like the party to focus on “high prices of food items, terrorism, especially in the context of Jammu and Kashmir, and the aggressive stance of China seen recently in encroachments in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh and issuing “stapled visas” to Indian citizens.
He emphasised that he did not come from a politician family. He had risen in the party through the RSS student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. His aim was the BJP should assume the role of an organisation that would decide India’s destiny.