The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday heaved a major sigh of relief after the disgruntled Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi decided to participate at the two-day party's national executive meeting which began here from today. Modi, who was reluctant to attend the meet, agreed after party leader and RSS pracharak Sanjay Joshi offered to resign as an invitee on the national executive. Party president Nitin Gadkari admitted that there were differences between Modi and the party. "However, those differences have been sorted out. Modi has talked to me personally and conveyed that he will be attending the two day meet. In the meanwhile, party leader Sanjay Joshi has offered to resign as an invitee on the national executive in the larger interest of the party." Modi, who is attending one function at Udaipir, announced that he would reach Mumbai after 3 pm to participate at the national executive meet.
Further, another disgruntled leader and Rajasthan's former chief minister Vasundhara Raje, who had threatened to resign with her supporters over former home minister Gulab Chand Kataria’s planned yatra in South Rajasthan, was attending the meet.However, from Karnataka comes some more embarrassment for the party. BJP strongman BS Yeddyurappa, who is unhappy over the failure of the party leadership to reinstate him as Chief Minister, has declared that he is not going to Mumbai and all activity at his Bangalore residence this morning indicated that was not an empty threat. On a TV channel, Yeddyurappa said "Advani ji is somehow supporting Ananth Kumar. He should become the chief minister of Karnataka, that is also Advani ji's dream. I have met Advani ji 2-3 times. I explained everything about Karnataka's political situation and what Ananth Kumar is doing backdoor stabbing. I told everything. Even then, they are worried about their own post. They want their own people should become chief minister with respect to states, that is what is happening in Delhi."
Gadkari, who had recently admitted his differences with the Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, said the latter has communicated to work shoulder to shoulder for the party's growth. "I welcome him.He has told me he will stand with us shoulder-to-shoulder and work for the party," visibly relaxed Gadkari, adding that Mr Joshi's resignation was "a large-hearted gesture.Joshi's exit however, is seen as a blow for Gadkari -both men are staunchly supported by the party's parent body, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).
In the resignation letter that Joshi sent to Gadkari, he reportedly said he does not want to be the reason for dissent or division in the party. Party insiders believe that Joshi was asked to quit after pressure from the BJP's Gujarat unit, who had said they would follow Modi's lead and skip the meeting.
The resignation of Joshi, an old RSS hand, would be seen as a big setback for Gadkari. Joshi was re-inducted into the party by Gadkari only a few months ago after being in political exile for six years over an MMS scandal. Modi has already skipped a party meet in November, sulking about Joshi's presence and also did not campaign for the party in the crucial UP elections earlier this year because Joshi was given an important charge there.
BJP leader, who did not want to be identified, told Business Standard that the national executive would take up amendment to the constitution of the party to allow Gadkari a second term as president after he completes his current term in December. However, he admitted that there has been opposition from a section of the party including veteran and former deputy prime minister LK Advani.
In recent days, party leaders have challenged several of Gadkari's decisions and forced him to back down on them. He had to go back on his decision to induct Babu Singh Kushwaha into the BJP in UP last year; then came the controversy over supporting the nomination of independent candidate Anshuman Mishra in Jharkhand for the Rajya Sabha. Mr Gadkari was forced to reverse that decision after other senior leaders united against him. While re-inducting Joshi last year, Gadkari had overruled all opposition and today's development will be seen as Mr Modi arm-twisting the party president and getting his way.
Today's development is also seen as a setback for the RSS. It backs Gadkari and had also backed Joshi's re-induction. Today it said this was an internal matter of the BJP. RSS spokesman MG Vaidya said, "The parties which revolve around one person, have these kinds of problems. Did anyone from Delhi know Nitin Gadkari three years back? Now they know him. Every post someone holds is respectable. Zero has no value. But if you put one before it, it is ten. Same way, if you put another zero, it's 100."
The party leaderd admitted that party's projection as a divided house would have gone against it ahead of Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh scheduled by the end of this year. The BJP rules both those states and must retain them in the run-up to the 2014 General Elections. The National Executive meet would also provide an opportunity to the party to formulate a strategy on the Presidential election due soon, party leader said.