After RSS ideologue MG Vaidya spoke the unspeakable - blaming Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi for triggering the attacks on party president Nitin Gadkari - the BJP rushed to the defence of Modi on Monday, closing ranks to project a united face.
In an article in his blog, Bhashya, Vaidya alleged that the demand for Gadkari's resignation was first raised by Ram Jethmalani, who also vociferously put forth Modi's name as the party's prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 elections.
"If one person who demands BJP chief's resignation also wants Modi to be the next prime minister, it reeks of a conspiracy originating from Gujarat. When Gujarat is referred to, Modi's name figures naturally," Vaidya, former RSS baudhik pramukh (ideologue) wrote in his Marathi blog.
But the BJP was quick to reject his suggestion. Gadkari himself issued a statement in favour of Modi: "The writer has tried to link the recent comments by one of the party MPs with Shri Narendra Modi... The party completely rejects such an insinuation, as it is totally unfounded."
The statement added: "The BJP is firmly and unitedly behind Shri Narendra Modi and we are confident that the party will win decisively in the ensuing assembly elections (in Gujarat)."In Chennai, former BJP president M Venkaiah Naidu, too, disagreed with Vaidya's views.
The controversy pointed to a number of things: The deep divide within the Sangh Parivar on the Gadkari issue, the party's attempt to stage a unity show before the Gujarat polls and the growing clout of Modi, which forced Gadkari, himself an RSS man, to reject the claim of a senior Sangh ideologue.
The RSS itself issued a statement that Vaidya's views were personal, and not the Sangh's official position.
Vaidya's article had other controversial observations too.
He said that Ram Jethmalani should resign as BJP Rajya Sabha MP just like his son quit the national executive and senior leader LK Advani should have attended the meeting that voiced support for Gadkari.
Vaidya also pointed to the fact that Modi had never issued a denial when his candidature for the prime ministerial post was speculated on.
(With inputs from Chennai)