RSS stepped in on Tuesday to douse the fires ignited by Ram Jethmalani over Nitin Gadkari’s exit. Following the intervention and frenzied political activity, BJP core group gave a clean chit to Gadkari and endorsed his continuation as party chief.
The core group meeting — also attended by the general secretaries and secretaries — held him not guilty on the basis of an internal inquiry conducted by RSS ideologue and chartered accountant S Gurumurthy.
In a joint statement read out by party’s chief spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha Opposition leaders Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj said the meeting thanked Gurumurthy for bringing a clarity in the matter to enable the party to fully stand behind Gadkari. Gurumurthy had hopped from the residence of one leader to another all day to give a presentation in defence of Gadkari.
Gurumurthy certified that there is no direct or indirect involvement of Gadkari in 18 companies that had invested in the Purti group he had promoted and as such he has nothing to worry about the Income Tax and Company Registrar inquiries.
Jaitley and Sushma also appealed to the party members not to air their view in the matter in public as it hurts the party.
Patriarch Lal Krishna Advani and Gadkari stayed away from the meeting. Two other core group members who were absent were former party presidents M Venkaiah Naidu and Murli Manohar Joshi.
Trying to downplay Advani’s absence, Prasad said that Advani was not present because he had been already briefed in the morning. However, sources said that Advani wants Gadkari removed from office and is keen on filling the vacancy himself.
CLASH OF PERSONALITIES
The raging controversy is an outcome of the proxy war between Advani and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. Advani has made it clear that he is miffed with RSS’ open support for Gadkari. But at the heart of these differences is the fact that Advani is still smarting under his unceremonious removal as BJP president after he praised Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
In the current controversy, Advani is cut up with the RSS brass as on the one hand, the Sangh claimed that Nitin Gadkari is an internal matter of the BJP. But, on the other hand, Bhagwat has unrelentingly pressed for Gadkari’s continuation. No wonder Advani stayed away from the core group meeting convened to endorse the continuance of the BJP chief.
According to sources, the clash between Advani and Bhagwat may now spill out in the open.