The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Wednesday hurried to smoothen the ruffled feathers in the BJP over the manner in which it had sought to push Nitin Gadkari's appointment as the next party chief, sidelining other senior leaders.
RSS prachar pramukh Manmohan Vaidya issued a statement late Wednesday to say the Sangh was not against the four senior leaders — Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Venkaiah Naidu and Ananth Kumar — as made out by a section of the media, but rather “has had cordial relations with them”.
Also, he said the Sangh was not pushing for “anybody” or opposing anybody to be Rajnath Singh’s successor. Vaidya said, “who will be BJP president will be entirely BJP’s own decision”.
The four leaders known as “Delhi’s Four” were ruled out as the next party chief by RSS boss Mohan Bhagwat in a TV interview.
The RSS’s disclaimer came a day after Naidu met Bhagwat in Nagpur to convey the resentment brewing within the party over Gadkari.
RSS sources said Bhagwat asked Vaidya to issue a clarification to clear the air on this issue though the Sangh’s preference for Gadkari still remains undiluted. Bhagwat realised that his remark got twisted because of the intense factional rivalry within the BJP.
Bhagwat held throughout the interview that he was “told” by BJP leaders that none of them would be made the party chief.
Naidu did not mince words in telling the RSS chief that the four felt “humiliated” by reports quoting him as ruling them out when they had served the BJP all these years.
The leaders were upset that Bhagwat should have chosen to reply in that manner, which aided the backers of outgoing chief Rajnath Singh who was against them.
Last August, when Bhagwat held parleys with senior BJP leaders to end the internal war, Rajnath Singh had urged the Sangh not to appoint anyone seen as close to Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani to become his successor. He had also blamed particularly Jaitley for the BJP's defeat in the Lok Sabha elections.