BJP president Nitin Gadkari's return to the top post for a second consecutive term isn't coming without a last-minute token drama.
Lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani, son of Ram Jethmalani, said on Monday that he was exploring the option to contest against Gadkari, if technically possible, for the sake of inner party democracy. "Yes, I am thinking of contesting," Jethmalani told HT over phone.
This is being seen as no more than a last-ditch effort to embarrass Gadkari, as a contest is unlikely. Reason: Jethmalani may not be a four-term active member — a requirement to contest — and is unlikely to get 100 proposers from amongst eligible voters required to file a valid nomination. For, few in the BJP would be willing to annoy the RSS, Gadkari's prime backer.
The nominations will take place on Wednesday and, unless there is more than one candidate, the result will be announced the same day.
BJP chief electoral officer Thawarchand Gehlot on Monday got a call from someone claiming to speak on behalf of Mahesh Jethmalani, and seeking to know the election procedure. Gehlot told him to bring an authority letter from Jethmalani if he wanted the nomination form.
Hours later, Mahesh himself called Gehlot over phone to know the procedure. Gehlot told him the details: the candidate must have been an active member of the party for at least four consecutive terms, and his candidature must be proposed by at least 20 voters each from at least five different states.
The proposers must be from among the eligible voters, who number 1949 in all. For, only those who have been elected as members of the national council from the 19 states that have seen polls till now are eligible to vote.
But Gehlot reportedly advised Jethmalani to think about his future and also whether he could fulfil technical requirements before making up his mind.
"I don't think he has even been an active member four times," a BJP leader told HT.
The party has two kinds of members: ordinary members, who pay R5 for the membership and continue for six years at a time; and active members, who pay R100 and continue for three years in a single term.