The BJP's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Friday continued its defence of beleaguered party chief Nitin Gadkari, drawing a clear distinction between him and former Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, who was made to step down from the key post by the party on corruption charges.
Asked why there were two yardsticks for Yeddyurappa and Gadkari, RSS joint secretary Dattatreya Hosabale said: "Yeddyurappa had to step down because of the Lokayukta probe. In Gadkari's case, it's only a media allegation."
Hosabale was talking to the media on the first day of the Sangh's ongoing three-day conclave in Chennai.
Gadkari has been accused of committing irregularities in business dealings of the Purti group with which he is associated. Sources say the Sangh got S Gurumurthy to examine the evidence against Gadkari, if any, and concluded he was "clean".
However, even as it backed its protégé Gadkari, the RSS sought to show a measured distance. Asked if the Sangh would discuss the charges against Gadkari, Hosabale said, "Gadkari is a Swayamsevak. There can be internal discussions on the issue. Decisions on BJP matters are taken only by the party. We don't interfere."
He added: "Why single out Gadkari? We are not going soft on anyone. There will be no different yardsticks. Public morality and national integrity are supreme."
Meanwhile, Yeddyurappa, who is planning to launch his Karnataka Janata Party, has come under attack from BJP leaders in Bangalore.
In a party workers' meet in Bangalore on Friday, senior BJP leaders in the state- Ananth Kumar, deputy chief minister R Ashok, higher education minister CT Ravi and others - indirectly attacked Yeddyurappa.
"If those who enjoy respect in the party's name are thinking otherwise, they will be disappointed soon," Ravi said, indirectly referring to BSY. BJP leader Anant Kumar, seen as a detractor of Yeddyurappa, said, "The party should not worry about a few persons who are not active. We have to build the party."