BJP chief Nitin Gadkari won't quit now. A day after BJP patriarch LK Advani backed him, RSS brass firmed up that line after a series of confabulations with Gadkari.
As other BJP leaders watched charges flying thick and fast against the party chief, RSS leaders led by Mohan Bhagwat and Bhaiyya Joshi apparently advised Gadkari to hold on. On his part, he too would rather dig in his heels, put up a "brave front" to fend off charges against him till any official probe actually established his guilt.
Gadkari stayed put in Nagpur for an extra day, cancelling his appointments in Delhi, talking to RSS heads at length since Wednesday night.
Adopting a "wait-and-watch" policy, RSS leaders wanted to see the shape of the war engulfing Gadkari being played out and how far the UPA machinery would go after him. By that time, they expect the polls to be completed in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat in December, and they could think of a contingency plan, RSS sources said.
RSS insiders said Gadkari apprised the Sangh leaders about the "whole" controversy and even expressed his desire to resign, if necessary.
The dilemma before the RSS centred on the fact that it had anointed Gadkari as BJP chief in 2010.
His "hasty exit" without a clear understanding among RSS and BJP leaders would undermine its own standing, sources added.
Consequently, there's no ready "exit plan" for Gadkari, RSS sources said, though a rethink on his second term from January next could not be ruled out "if the need so arises".
Meanwhile, a day after she joined Advani in backing Gadkari, leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj told election rallies in Himachal Pradesh that "when Congress leaders' faces are blackened by scams, they accuse Gadkari".