A day after top RSS and BJP leaders sprung a surprise by forcing Nitin Gadkari to opt out of a second term, the big question that has emerged among party circles is whether the outgoing chief was misled into believing that the Sangh was fully behind him when it was actually examining other options.
Ostensibly it seemed that Gadkari was the Sangh’s candidate but was ousted almost single handedly by Advani. This however is not true. HT has learnt that RSS leaders had dumped Gadkari and told the party to choose a consensus candidate.
Even on January 10, when RSS deputy chief Bhaiyya Joshi who was sent to talk to Advani and other BJP leaders including Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitely, the option of Gadkari's replacement was broadly discussed while affirming that the Sangh would go by what the senior BJP leaders decide.
Till the I-T raids took place on Tuesday, the story was the RSS wanted Gadkari to get a second term, “no matter what”.
But, even as Gadkari maintained that reports about I-T investigations were “manipulated” RSS and BJP leaders began to realise that things were getting messy. “Sangh had by then realised that its bid to micro-manage the BJP had been a terrible mistake,” said an insider.
Gadkari's sole consolation was that, coincidentally, his preference for Rajnath Singh was endorsed by other leaders.