It’s nearly three months since Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Nitin Gadkari have spoken to each other. That is there’s no communication between the two leaders ever since Gadkari picked up Modi’s bete noire, Sanjay Joshi, to handle the elections in UP.
An upset Modi stopped taking phone calls from Gadkari and other leaders, excepting Arun Jaitley and Piyush Goel, as a show of ire and protest. He also vowed not to turn up for any meeting with central BJP leaders because they overlooked his not-so loud signals not to bring back Joshi.
Who is Sanjay Joshi? A 50 plus Sangh activist, Joshi is BJP’s organisational man. He had to leave the BJP after circulation of a sex CD allegedly by Modi’s men during a BJP conclave in Mumbai in 2005. The CD showed Joshi in the company of a woman.
Last year, Gadkari went by the RSS’ desire that Joshi, who is known for his strong organisational skills, be “rehabilitated” with an assignment in UP. Ultimately, the BJP’s ideological parent body, wants Joshi to return as BJP’s general secretary (organisation) in place of Ramlal Aggarwal, who will be retired.
Joshi earned the wrath of Modi when he was in charge of BJP affairs in 1990s. That was the time when then BJP leader Shankersinh Vagela, who later joined the Congress, revolted against former chief minister Keshubhai Patel.
That episode also saw Modi banished from Gujarat. He blamed Joshi for his plight as he was sent to Haryana to nurture the BJP. From that day onwards, Joshi has remained a “fly in Modi’s bonnet.”
Therefore, it’s naturally surprising that Gadkari, who has been equally cut up with Modi, should rule out himself as his party’s prime ministerial candidate, and, instead, favour Modi for the top job.
Gadkari even promised to back his candidature as party chief. “I will never be a candidate for PM nor will I topple anybody. Modi has good potential to be BJP president and PM,” Gadkari told a news channel.
Gadkari, whose term as BJP president comes to an end in early 2013, said he is not interested in extension of his tenure. “I am ready to work as an ordinary party worker. I will support Narendra Modi to take over the mantle.”
Asked whether BJP should now launch Narendra Modi on the national stage, Gadkari said, Narendra Modi has very good potential to be both BJP President and PM.
BJP insiders say Gadkari knows Modi is the most popular leader among BJP cadres. But Modi’s problems are not just with him (after he appointed Joshi) but with the RSS itself.
Ultimately, it’s final call of the RSS on Modi’s future plans if he wins Gujarat for a third time in December elections.
Perhaps, Gadkari believes that, though Modi is popular with every BJP worker, his inability to improve ties with other BJP leaders is going to be a stumbling block for him. With many NDA allies still allergic to Modi, Gadkari knows he can still have the last laugh!