The long-drawn battle between BJP chief Nitin Gadkari and Gujarat CM Narendra Modi reached a crucial phase on Thursday with the resignation of Sanjay Joshi from the BJP national executive.
Joshi’s head was the price for Modi’s presence at the party’s national executive meeting in Mumbai.
Joshi, who is backed by Gadkari and the RSS, is Modi’s special bugbear. Last September, Modi had stayed away from the national executive in Delhi following Joshi’s induction into the Uttar Pradesh election campaign. Modi also stayed away from the campaign, which many senior leaders suspect was the reason for the party’s abysmal performance in the polls.
“With the state assembly polls scheduled later this year, Modi simply cannot afford to let Joshi become powerful at national level,” said a Gujarat BJP general secretary. “He feared it would damage his prospects of a third term.”
“Joshi is a very intelligent leader with a solid grip on the organisation. His accommodating nature has made him very popular with party workers. He was also an RSS pracharak deputed to BJP so Modi always considered him a serious rival,” said a RSS leader.
The Modi-Joshi rivalry dates back to 1995 when the BJP captured Gujarat for the first time and party’s senior leader Keshubhai Patel was made the chief minister. But within six months, BJP faced a major rebellion from another senior leader Shankarsinh Vaghela, who forced Patel to resign.
Modi was believed to be the cause of the split between the two.
In 1998, the party recaptured power and Patel became the chief minister and immediately shifted Modi to Delhi. Joshi was given Modi’s post as the organising secretary.
Patel and Joshi, thereafter, began sidelining Modi loyalists. But sitting in Delhi, Modi prepared the ground for Patel’s exit.
Following the 2001 quake in Gujarat, he projected Patel as an “ineffective chief minister”. Finally in October 2001, Modi succeeded in dislodging Patel. Taking over the reins of the government, he shifted Joshi to Delhi.BJP bigwigs in Mumbai | Modi and Joshi: Comrades who turned foes