Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari has deftly stepped aside to avoid getting caught in the in the spat between Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Mr. Gadkari has chosen not to intervene in what now appears a public fight between the two party leaders. It could not be confirmed whether Mr. Modi did indeed complain to Mr. Gadkari about Ms. Swaraj's reported comment that he was not campaigning in Bihar because his magic “need not work everywhere.” His aides would neither confirm nor deny it. All that they said was BJP Chief Ministers frequently talked to Mr. Gadkari and one could not be sure of what Mr. Modi might or might not have said.
Asked about the spat, party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said: “I have nothing to say.
But what is certain is that, unlike as has been made out in some news reports, Mr. Gadkari did not take up the issue with Ms. Swaraj. “I am in Bihar and Nitin did talk to me, but he did not even broach the subject of my reported remarks about Mr. Modi's magic not working everywhere, remarks that were made in a specific context and which were twisted out of context in some reports,” she told The Hindu over telephone in between her campaign meetings in the State.
In fact, Mr. Gadkari talked to her about the upcoming visit of U.S. President Barack Obama, and she told him she would discuss the subject after she came back from Bihar on Friday. “I repeat, Nitin did not mention the subject of my remarks about Modi's magic. The news that he took this up with me has been planted by some vested interests,” said Ms. Swaraj.
It was soon after Mr. Modi notched up some impressive gains in the local bodies and panchayat polls in his State that Ms. Swaraj was asked the question haunting the party from the start of the Bihar campaign: had Mr. Modi been kept away from the Bihar campaign on the specific demand of the Janata Dal (United), which wanted to preserve some semblance of its secular character despite its coalition with the BJP? Her answer was his “magic” might not work everywhere, implying it would not work in Bihar.
In response to this, it is presumed, a Modi fan from Karnataka, MLC Lehar Singh Siroya, placed advertisements in several Hindi dailies published from the capital, praising Mr. Modi sky high, and saying it was time that he moved to the Centre to help resolve national problems. In short, the message was Mr. Modi was good not only for Gujarat, he would be better for the entire country.