Even as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ram Jethmalani persisted with his demand that party president Nitin Gadkari step down, senior party leader L K Advani today backed Gadkari.
It has been alleged Gadkari, as well as the Purti Group he headed till a few months earlier, had received various favours such as unsecured loans.
Both Advani and Jethmalani were elected from Gujarat and their election would not have been possible but for the support of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, whom many see as the foremost challenger to Gadkari’s position in the party.
Unlike Gadkari’s supporters in the party, who have claimed charges against him were conjured by the Congress to prevent him from becoming party president for a second term, Advani didn’t try to deny the charges.
“Nitin Gadkari has come clean and has asked for an inquiry by the Department of Company Affairs. It is a fair and proper response. This shows the difference in the BJP’s attitude. It needs to be noted the allegations are about standards of business, not misuse of power or corruption,” he said.
In his blog, Advani said he would congratulate Gadkari for voluntarily asking for an inquiry into the allegations against him. “The government has also said it will inquire. I hope the government inquiry would be fair and it would not use its political hostility to the BJP to colour the probe,” he said.
Advani’s opposition to Gadkari’s second term is no secret. To protect Gadkari and pre-empt Advani from presenting himself as the panacea to the BJP’s political problems, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is said to have asked senior BJP leaders to desist from seeking nominations from those aged more than 70.
Meanwhile, the RSS on Wednesday hinted Gadkari would continue in his present capacity till his term ended in December. It is expected the RSS would then ask Gadkari to step down to avoid further embarrassment to the RSS parivar. The issue would be discussed at a two-day RSS conclave slated for October 30 and 31 in Chennai.
At the Vijayadashmi sanchalan at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur on Wednesday, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said the allegations against Gadkari were the BJP’s internal issues, adding the party would handle it. He added the Sangh “continues to concentrate in its work of character-building and people should be made aware of the need to change the system, ensuring they do not develop an aversion towards it.”
“The mind-boggling revelations of corruption have not come to an end yet. Many small and big agitations are being conducted to demand punishment for the corrupt, to bring back black money stashed away in foreign banks and to make stringent laws to curb corruption,” he said.