Nitin Gadkari is set to be the next BJP president despite the claims of the party’s ideological fount, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), that it wasn’t forcing its choice on the party.
The process for the appointment of Gadkari, who heads Maharashtra BJP, will begin once Parliament’s winter session ends on December 18, party leaders say.
Last month, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had directed that a statement to be issued that the Sangh was not opposed to any of the “Delhi Four”, a disparaging reference to Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Venkaiah Naidu and Ananth Kumar, taking over the BJP. The move came after Naidu called on the RSS chief.
Ten days from now, the results for Jharkhand assembly will be out, leaving the party with no distraction to implement the Sangh’s choice.
Every time a BJP leader expressed reservations about Gadkari’s ability to handle the job, RSS brass said they “prefer” Gadkari, but won’t mind Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
But BJP leaders know that Modi will not leave Gujarat to succeed Rajnath Singh, whose term officially ended in the last week of November.
The BJP leadership may announce Gadkari’s name by month-end or early January. The parliamentary board may be called to formally announce the appointment, making way for the 52-year-old leader to take over in mid-January, a party official said.
Alternatively, Gadkari could wait to be formally elected by the BJP’s national council, the party’s electoral college. For that, half of the state units will have to complete internal elections, mandatory under the party constitution to elect the chief.
Gadkari, who runs several successful businesses — from manufacturing pipes to silk saris — in Nagpur, has never fought an assembly or a parliamentary election but shares good relations with party seniors and RSS leaders.
“Gadkari is the right man… he doesn’t belong to any faction and has no ego in approaching anybody for putting the BJP house in order,” a top RSS functionary, who didn’t wish to be identified, said.