The RSS has intervened in the Gadkari crisis of the BJP in a big way and saved the day for the beleaguered party president facing charges of corruption. The raging discontent against Gadkari which was expressed in lawyer Ram Jethmalani’s letter demanding Gadkari step down in the face of allegations levelled by anti-graft activist Arvind Kejriwal and two TV news channels — it was supported by former finance ministers Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha and seemed to be gaining momentum — was defused by the intensive defence of Gadkari by chartered accountant and ideologue S Gurumurthy.
The fault-lines in the party over the Gadkari issue were out in the open, and it was clear that RSS’ “Rescue Gadkari” was just a temporary reprieve. What the RSS and the party leadership are left to deal with is the fact that there is deep divergence of views on Gadkari’s continuance as party president. This could come up again in a much more stronger way at the time of the re-election of Gadkari for a second term. So, Gadkari is not likely to get second term as BJP president.
After a two-hour meeting at the party headquarters which ended at 9.15 pm on Tuesday, leaders of the opposition in both houses of Parliament, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, issued a joint statement saying said Gadkari had done no legal or moral wrong.
At the meeting, Gurumurthy made an exhaustive presentation on the legal implications of the allegations against Gadkari’s business deals. He convinced the party leaders that there was no substance in the allegations.
The day was full of speculation with Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha supporting Jethmalani’s demand that Gadkari should quit immediately. On Monday, Jethmalani’s son, Mahesh, resigned from the party national executive, saying that it is not possible to work under a president facing corruption charges.
Though the drama ended on a whimper and a possible rebellion quelled for the moment, there is no doubt that there is a deep divide inside the party over Gadkari. There is a lobby opposed to him. A senior leader speaking on condition of anonymity admitted that it is not the corruption allegations against Gadkari, but that there was struggle for power inside the party, especially for the top slot.