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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

Is Nitin Gadkari a tool for the RSS’ ‘politics of paradox’?

We in the media fail to understand that the dual policies are not contradictory but aimed at and working towards the same goal

mumbai Updated: Feb 13, 2019 07:42 IST
Sujata Anandan
Sujata Anandan
Hindustan Times
There is a group within the BJP and RSS which believes that Gadkari could not be getting so obliquely personal with his party leadership without being confident of the support of the top brass in the RSS.
There is a group within the BJP and RSS which believes that Gadkari could not be getting so obliquely personal with his party leadership without being confident of the support of the top brass in the RSS.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
         

The case of Nitin Gadkari gets curiouser and curiouser. Every time I have called him after one controversial statement or the other he has told me in no uncertain terms that he thinks the media is sold out, has lost all its credibility and they always twist his words out of context.

But call me after 15 days, he says reassuringly. Let this controversy die down first. Yet within 15 days there is a new statement and a new controversy and his ire against the media comes to the fore all over again. Perhaps he has a point - his admiring statement on Indira Gandhi, by most accounts, was not just about India’s only woman prime minister. He had been speaking about women who came up in politics without reservations and had included BJP leaders Sumitra Mahajan and Sushma Swaraj among them. But his mention of Mrs Gandhi was isolated, though not blown out of context per se.

Now his latest statement seems not just the most curious given that it appears specifically aimed at one person -Prime Minister Narendra Modi - but has also brought forth a good deal of concern and speculation about where Gadkari is really headed and with whose blessings.

NCP president Sharad Pawar, who makes no public declarations of friendships, last week avowed Gadkari was a good friend and that he was deeply worried about him. “I have heard he might be bidding for the prime minister’s office and I am concerned about him,” said Pawar enigmatically without elaborating where he heard what he did and why it was causing him concern.

However, telling a party worker he must look after his family first “because one who cannot take care of family cannot take care of the country,” cannot be a random casual remark aimed at nobody in particular. It has been rightly interpreted by not just the media but also fellow politicians as deliberate finger-pointing and needling of one man who is also now under attack by opposition leaders on the same count. The question then arises if the below-the-belt remarks by both Gadkari and opposition leaders are spontaneous or orchestrated.

There is a group within the BJP and RSS which believes that Gadkari could not be getting so obliquely personal with his party leadership without being confident of the support of the top brass in the RSS. Yet, like Dilip Deodhar, an RSS ideologue, told me recently, the RSS always practices “the politics of paradox” and we in the media fail to understand that the dual policies are not contradictory but aimed at and working towards the same goal.

So while he thinks Gadkari’s caste (Brahmin) is all wrong to bid for the office of the prime minister and that Modi, as an OBC, is still needed by the RSS to weave the larger Hindu community together at the coming election, I wonder if the RSS, following that policy of paradox, is covering both its flanks by fuelling Nitin Gadkari’s ambition on the one hand and continuing to buttress Modi and Amit Shah on the other.

For it is one thing for the opposition to target the BJP leadership in personal terms and quite another for a party man to do the same. Already, Gadkari may have burnt his bridges with his own party leadership, given the praise that has been showered upon him by Sonia Gandhi for being a doer (in fact the only doer) in the government (was she returning the compliment he had paid her mother-in-law a few weeks ago, I wonder) and now Pawar’s unusual and unabashed avowal of friendship with the Union minister.

Amid reports that funds to his ministry have been cut (to stop him from doing better?) and Pawar’s concern for his well-being, speculation is now rife whether Pawar, who is well-clued in to all political parties, was warning Gadkari about his personal security and knows something the rest of us don’t. His party leadership can certainly not deny Gadkari a ticket to the coming elections despite all the pot-shots he has taken at them, nor engineer his defeat - for losing even one seat to the Congress – which is the only rival to the BJP in Nagpur – will be completely unacceptable to the party top duo.

Perhaps, it is with that confidence that Gadkari continues with his political indiscretions. However, a few tips from his good friend Sharad Pawar who has mastered the art of political survival as a forever-rebel might be quite in order.

First Published: Feb 13, 2019 00:27 IST

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