It’s been six months since Nitin Gadkari took charge of the BJP, but his team of general secretaries, vice-presidents and secretaries may have to wait a bit longer to get any work.
Reason: He doesn’t like to be “rushed” and appears to dither like late prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, say BJP leaders.
“There is a sense of drift,” admitted a senior leader. “We seem to be going nowhere but Gadkari is confident that this is the right way.”
He took over on December 19, but it wasn’t until four months later that he named his team.
A BJP national executive member said: “Gadkari appears de-focused. He prefers an NGO-style approach. He also wishes to show he is not a RSS acolyte. But, as a political party, we need clear direction on policies and ideology. That is not coming.”
Even his close aide J.P. Nadda, who quit as a Himachal Pradesh minister to be a general secretary, doesn’t have much work to do, say BJP insiders.
An ex-BJP official said, “The problem is Gadkari wishes to please all. If he goes by a senior’s recommendation to appoint someone, then in the next instance, he does something else to please the other group.”
When Narendra Modi’s adverts rocked the coalition in Bihar, Gadkari spent more time speaking to anti-Nitish Kumar leaders until two seniors urged him to work out a truce fast.
Gadkari’s defence is he bears no malice and his intentions are clear. He doesn’t play group politics and “hears everyone out”. His aides say he takes his time because he doesn’t want to make mistakes and wants to take everyone along.
Some point to the return of Jaswant Singh as one of his “superfast” decisions because of pressure from LK Advani who wanted “to right the wrong done by the party in summarily expelling him”.
“Advani wanted it, and Gadkari went along. There wasn’t even a meeting of the BJP parliamentary board that had expelled him in the first place for ideological deviation to reverse the decision,” said one leader.
In a bid to please Modi, Gadkari gave a Rajya Sabha ticket to Ram Jethmalani and asked Vasundhara Raje to ensure his victory from Rajasthan, BJP insiders say.
But, in the case of return of pro-Hindutva leaders like Uma Bharti, Gadkari is not acting in haste because she has to first agree to work in UP and MP (her home state) and MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had to give his nod.