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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

BJP head hunt: Gadkari prospects getting hazy?

Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 11, 2013
First Published: 00:26 IST(11/1/2013) | Last Updated: 10:34 IST(11/1/2013)

As RSS bigwigs arrive in the capital to decide on the new BJP president, it seems as if the plan to grant a second term to Nitin Gadkari is running into rough weather.

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Gadkari's detractors within party have opposed extending his term, which is due to end in February first week, and they are mounting pressure on the RSS brass to search for an alternative.

Senior BJP leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi are reportedly not inclined towards backing Gadkari. But RSS leaders, including RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, do not see any reason why Gadkari should not continue as the saffron party chief - even rejecting assertions that his family's links with the Nagpur-based Purti Group and its financial dealings have damaged the party's standing ahead of the 2014 elections.

They are of the view that no official agency or department has filed a case against Gadkari despite the wave of negative media reports, and the entire controversy was part of a larger "conspiracy" to destabilise the party or end the RSS influence on it.

Nevertheless, the RSS leaders mean to "reason" it out with Gadkari's detractors instead of bulldozing their opinion on the party. In a worst case scenario, they may also look for alternatives.

RSS sources hope that Advani, being the BJP patriarch, would be "persuaded" to agree on Gadkari.

However, it is an exercise that won't be easy. With Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi more keen on the affairs of his own state, the choice could narrow down to former party chief Rajnath Singh and Lok Sabha opposition leader Sushma Swaraj.

For his part, Gadkari has made it clear that he has no problem packing his bags if the Sangh want it. RSS leaders are also expected to finalise an action plan in the event of the LS polls being held before 2014.

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