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Gadkari versus Modi

With the general election barely two years away, the Bharatiya Janta Party’s (BJP) top decision-making body was supposed to decide the party’s future course of action at the national meeting in Mumbai. Shailesh Gaikwad writes.

india Updated: May 27, 2012 01:49 IST
Shailesh Gaikwad

With the general election barely two years away, the Bharatiya Janta Party’s (BJP) top decision-making body was supposed to decide the party’s future course of action at the national meeting in Mumbai. BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionaries from Maharashtra were happy to see Nitin Gadkari get his second term as party president and tighten his grip over the party.

For them, Gadkari has proved to be a good choice for the post. The party faced a debacle in UP but wrested power from the Congress in Goa. Despite problems, the party has managed to retain power in Karnataka and Vasundhara Raje has been pacified in Rajasthan. However, what would have been a Gadkari show turned out to be Narendra Modi’s exhibition of power. The party cadre is divided on Sanjay Joshi’s exit from the BJP’s national executive, whether or not the decision was taken in haste when Modi set it as a condition to participate in the Mumbai conclave. Joshi is not just the RSS’s favourite; he shares excellent relations with Gadkari. Still, he had to be sacrificed to keep Modi in good humour.

For the Sangh and BJP, Modi is the poster boy who is the best bet to win the general election for them. At the same time, they want to maintain a balance of powers and appoint a BJP chief who will not give in to an autocratic Modi.

Gadkari’s close aides in Nagpur and Mumbai swear that he is the right man for the job. For almost a decade before he became the state BJP president, Gadkari had to play second fiddle to Gopinath Munde, when the Pramod Mahajan-Munde duo used to run the show in Maharashtra. However, after becoming state president, Gadkari wasted no time in sidelining Munde. Over the past two years, Munde tried to revolt against the party leadership at least twice, but on both occasions, he had to withdraw without gaining anything.

Gadkari keeps in constant touch with the RSS top brass, especially his mentor, the organisation’s chief, Mohan Bhagwat. Among his friends are Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and former chief minister Manohar Joshi. Over the past two years, he has also developed a rapport with most of the National Democratic Alilance’s partners. The coming days will show how he handles the situation, including Modi’s rise as his party’s prime ministerial candidate. According to Gadkari’s aides, the Parivar wants him to emerge as a major power centre as Modi rises, which the man from Nagpur is keen to do. The cat and mouse game has just begun.


NCP looks for a new state chief

The search is on in Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) for the person who could become the party’s next state president . The tenure of state NCP president Madhukar Pichad ends next month and his successor is likely to lead the state unit for Loksabha and assembly elections in 2014.
The party top brass has set criteria for selecting the person. The president should be politically young, which could be anywhere from 40 to 60 years old, and acceptable in both urban and rural areas. So will the person be somebody like deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar’s close aide, Sunil Tatkare, or will he or she be handpicked by Pawar senior? The party is expected to reveal its choice early next month.