In a sudden and dramatic last-minute twist, BJP president Nitin Gadkari, who faces charges of dubious funding of his company, was on Tuesday night forced out of the race for BJP president's post, followed by the BJP leaders agreeing on the name of Rajnath Singh for the office.
In a late-night development, Gadkari issued a statement opting out of the BJP presidential elections scheduled on Wednesday, saying he did not want that charges against him should in any way adversely affect the interests of BJP. "I have, therefore, decided not to seek a second term as the BJP president," said Gadkari, who is expected to propose Rajnath Singh's name in the elections.
The BJP Parliamentary board will meet on Wednesday at 9.30am to endorse Rajnath's name and he will file his nomination papers around 11.30am, party sources said. This, while sources close to Rajnath said he was happy that the party has shown immense trust in him and that he has a challenging task in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.
The 62-year-old Rajnath, who had preceded Gadkari as BJP president till 2009, emerged the new choice at a hurriedly-called meeting of top leaders, including Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, M Venkaiah Naidu and RSS representative Ram Lal.
LK Advani, who was dead set against a second term for Gadkari, was away in a place near Mumbai and attended a function with Gadkari, but the two did not even exchange a word, reflecting the chill between them. Also considered close to RSS, Singh appeared to have tilted the balance in his favour.
Gadkari, whose candidature was being strongly pushed by RSS despite reservations within the party, was all set for re-election before senior leader Yashwant Sinha decided on Tuesday evening to throw his hat in the Wednesday's elections.
The move by Sinha, who had earlier demanded Gadkari's resignation in the wake of allegations of impropriety by his firm Purti Group, forced change on the candidate.