Nitin Gadkari to get second term as party president

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's stamp was visible all over the meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party's national executive, which began here on Thursday.

Though Mr. Modi arrived nearly seven hours after the two-day session started, it was he who dictated the agenda for the meeting and set the stage for Nitin Gadkari's re-nomination as party president.

With Mr. Modi's return to the centre stage, it will be watched with keen interest on how the party goes about the mission of enhancing its vote base by 10 per cent and broadening the National Democratic Alliance.

Mr. Gadkari has paid a high price to buy peace with Mr. Modi. After all efforts to mollify the Chief Minister failed, Mr. Gadkari, late on Wednesday night, dismissed Mr. Modi's arch-rival Sanjay Joshi from the national executive.

Mr. Modi, who was on a visit to Udaipur, chose to announce his decision to attend the meeting only after the electronic media flashed the news about Mr. Joshi and Mr. Gadkari himself confirmed it.

Mr. Modi has been at loggerheads with Mr. Gadkari after the latter took Mr. Joshi back into the party after six years and tasked him with working out the strategy for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

It is not immediately clear what forced Mr. Gadkari's hand. There have been suggestions at the meeting that the party's Gujarat unit sent out a strong signal to the central leadership that with the Assembly elections due by year-end, it could ill afford a conflict.

At the beginning of the meeting, Mr. Gadkari told journalists: “Modi will attend. He will work shoulder to shoulder with me. There was a conflict, [and it] has been sorted out. Sanjay Joshi quit, saying he doesn't want to be the source of any controversy.” It was “a large-hearted gesture.”

One of the main items on the agenda is to make a recommendation to the national council for an amendment to the party constitution to give Mr. Gadkari a second term. In effect, it means Mr. Gadkari will lead the party in the 2014 general election.

Reflecting the party's concern at factionalism in different States and the virtual revolt by some regional leaders, Mr. Gadkari, in his inaugural speech, talked repeatedly of the need for unity and discipline. His message to the rank and file was that while the mood of people was decisively anti-Congress, the BJP could benefit only if it got its house in order. “If we rise to their expectations, they will surely give us a mandate to form the next government and an opportunity to serve the nation.”

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