What is it is with Nitin Gadkari? Why doesn’t he realise that he has become a liability for the BJP. The longer he continues as the party president, the more damage he is bound to inflict on its public image. The resignation on Monday of Mahesh Jethmalani, the senior Mumbai lawyer, from the BJP National Executive in protest against Gadkari’s refusal to step down following reports about the financial skullduggery by private companies controlled by him reflects the popular disgust at his continuance.
A large number of BJP leaders privately share the concerns of the junior Jethmalani. Indeed, his father, Ram Jethmalani, a member of the BJP in the Rajya Sabha, on Monday said that he along with a couple of other senior leaders were unhappy with Gadkari’s decision not to resign. He named former cabinet ministers Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha who shared his concerns about the damage to the party stemming from Gadkari’s continuance as president. Gadkari is wrong to believe that the issue of his financial wheeling-dealing would die down on its own. It would not. So long as he is the head of the BJP, his critics in general and the scam-tainted Congress in particular would see to it that the main Opposition party is forced on the back foot due to its tainted head. It is also wrong to believe that his resignation would be construed as an admission of guilt. It would not be. He can insist that he is stepping down only to ensure that the BJP does not suffer on his account and that he would defend his financial dealings in any fair and independent probe. But he cannot inflict untold damage on the BJP by continuing to be its president. Let us again reiterate in this space that so long as he is the BJP President, the party’s anti-corruption campaign against the ruling Congress loses its edge for they can always turn around and point to Gadkari’s strange accounting practices in his Purti Group of Companies. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that he ceases to mar the electoral prospects of the BJP by immediately stepping aside. Until he is able to clear his name by relevant authorities, he should step away from the limelight. Politics is chiefly about perceptions. In the popular mind, Gadkari has indulged in devious practices; therefore, he must quit as party chief. Period. If the idea is to linger on as party president till his current term ends next month, it is a bad idea. A couple of more weeks as party president is unlikely to do him any good, but it would do immense harm to the party. Sonia Gandhi in her speech at the Congress rally on Sunday at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi pointedly said that the Opposition had no right to talk of corruption when the latter itself was mired neck-deep in it. Clearly, the accusing finger was pointing at Gadkari as the spearhead of the principal Opposition party in the country. Why allow her an alibi to make light of her own and her colleagues’ humongous corruption by sticking to the BJP President’s chair, Mr Gadkari? If you are a true Swayamsewak, if you are a true well-wisher of the BJP, you will end your own misery, and lift a huge burden from the head of the party of which you are the president, by quitting this moment. You should know that you are a huge liability for the BJP.
As it is, you were neither known for your organisational skills, nor for intellect. By sheer default, you came to head it. The failure of men and women far more deserving than you to head the BJP stemmed from their inability to compose their differences. You were the dark horse nominated by the RSS to keep various BJP factions in good humor. Nobody knew you carried with you a terrible baggage of financial skullduggery which was bound to surface, as it did, once you occupied the important office of the BJP President. Therefore, do not heed the assorted chartered accountants and other interested busybodies who assure you of your good conduct in the Purti Group of Companies. Instead, as a self-avowed RSS-BJP volunteer, do not waste a moment and resign as the party president. If the in-house chartered account has told you that you have done nothing wrong, you may bounce back in the party organisation once he can get you a clean chit from the relevant authorities. Till then, you must step aside as party president. That way alone, the BJP will be able to challenge frontally the corruption-ridden Congress Party. Are you listening, Mr Gadkari?