In any political party, the buck normally stops with the party president. And this should be more so in a party as supposedly disciplined as the BJP. But it wo-uld seem that party president Nitin Gadkari's hand is bei-ng forced by powerful leaders like Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. This has led him to purge his one-time favourite Sanjay Joshi whom Mr Modi is said to dislike. Mr Joshi who is supposed to be an organiser par excellence has been steadily marginalised and now jettisoned in a bid to please Mr Modi, arguably one of the party’s star performers. But the issue goes deeper than the tussle among various leaders. From the time he got his second term with the party constitution being amended to facilitate this, it was clear that Mr Gadkari would have to largely do the bidding of the RSS, the party’s ideological parent body. The RSS is firm in its goal of an eventual Hindu rashtra and will be looking at the possible candidates who can deliver this. So, it has never hesitated to intervene directly in party matters though it claims to be just a social organisation. The BJP leadership knows well that it cannot manage elections without the rank and file of the RSS helping it out. But Mr Gadkari also has the responsibility of putting together a team that can take on the UPA in the next general election. He has to get all the allies on board. The prospect of the shadowy RSS calling the shots is not likely to go down well with many of them.
The RSS has long been stuck in a time warp, unable to comprehend or move with the needs and aspirations of a changing India. While the BJP may be crucially dependent on the RSS, the latter also knows that it cannot wield the power it has today without the BJP. But what the RSS is doing is creating more divisions in the party with few being resolved to everyone's satisfaction. Despite the RSS's displeasure, it is now clear that former president LK Advani still considers himself as a possible prime ministerial candidate. Mr Gadkari has waffled on the subject leading to even more confusion.
The manner in which the Joshi-Modi spat was handled belies the famed organisational ability Mr Gadkari is supposed to have. While Mr Modi is a major vote-catcher for the party, it does the BJP’s leadership little good to have him call the shots so publicly. We have not seen the last of the Joshi saga. His exit has brought to the fore simmering resentment about the way he has been treated as well as the problems that have arisen due to the lack of a proper leadership. What we see today is not the buck stopping with Mr Gadkari, but buck-passing at the very top.