BJP president Nitin Gadkari seems set to skip his scheduled election campaign in Himachal Pradesh on Tuesday. The change of plans comes at a time when he is battling allegations of irregular business dealings.
Some BJP leaders said this was a direct fallout of perceptions that the charges against him would dent the party's attack on Congress leader Virbhadra Singh over alleged corruption. Another leader, however, said Gadkari would be closeted with lawyers to decide how to hit back at his detractors.
Apparently buoyed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's support for him till now, Gadkari struck a belligerent pose in Nagpur on Monday and told supporters he would give a fitting reply to those targeting him.
"I have never indulged in money laundering or run any illegal business. All my business ventures are aimed at the welfare of farmers..," he said. "But my silence should not be perceived as my guilt. How can the media hang me before I am proven guilty."
He accused the media of "conspiring with the Congress" to level "fabricated and false" charges against him to "divert attention" from the scams that have rocked the UPA.
"I will not give up. I will take these media houses to court," he said. Gadkari added he would seek exoneration in "the people's court", hinting that he may contest the general elections from Nagpur in 2014.
Late Sunday night, Gadkari had met RSS leader Suresh Soni and some key BJP leaders. Apart from the BS Yeddyurappa crisis in Karnataka, the charges against him were reportedly discussed.
The RSS has stood by its protégé till now, saying the accusations against him are a "media trial". Sections of the BJP, however, believe the charges against Gadkari can harm the party's anti-graft campaign.