That no appointments within the BJP come without the approval of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has been reinforced yet again. This time Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel learnt the hard way that keeping the RSS happy is part of every BJP leader’s job.
The RSS stiffly opposed Goel’s chief ministerial candidature for the state ahead of the December Assembly elections. While Goel claimed on Monday that he had never sought to be the party’s CM face, insiders say that Goel’s high-handed approach after taking over the party’s reins in February alienated him from the RSS. The party’s front runner for the CM post now is Dr Harshvardhan (who uses his first name), who not only enjoys the RSS’ confidence but also has the support of senior party leaders, including LK Advani, Nitin Gadkari and Sushma Swaraj.
A well-placed source in the BJP said that Goel lost the chief ministerial candidature race due to strong opposition by RSS’ Delhi prant pracharak (state unit head) Anil Kant. “Kantji was not happy with Goel’s style of functioning and he (Kant) is the one who strongly opposed Goel’s candidature. Kantji’s opposition has cost Goel dear,” the source said.
Others too were unhappy with Goel’s one-man show in the party. Among them were RSS Delhi chief Kulbhushan Ahuja and Mukesh Punyani, who works as a link between the RSS and the Delhi BJP.
Another BJP insider told dna, on condition of anonymity, that ever since Goel took over the party’s Delhi unit in February, he stopped consulting the RSS on party affairs.
“The RSS leadership in Delhi has been unhappy with the way Goel is running the party. They brought it to his notice and when they failed to note any change in his style of functioning, the RSS leadership in Delhi stopped talking to him,” he said.
Goel, sources said, ignored the RSS while announcing his team despite the RSS’ objections in the appointment of district president, block president and state office bearers. Feeling left out, the RSS stopped giving its suggestions and refrained from taking interest in the party’s affairs in the city, he said.
Ironically, Goel should have been the last person to alienate the RSS. He rose to the party’s top position in the state because the RSS withdrew support to his predecessor Vijender Gupta, a popular corporator in Delhi.
“Despite leading the BJP to victory in all the three civic body elections in April 2012, Gupta was removed as party president to make way for Goel when the RSS withdrew its support to him over corruption allegations,” he said.
With elections around the corner, the RSS has been avtively participating in BJP’s decision making. BJP sources say the party has finalised Dr Harshvardhan to be its chief ministerial candidate and that a formal announcement will be made following a parliamentary board meeting, expected to be held by the month end.