New Delhi: The top brass of the BJP have rallied round party president Nitin Gadkari but the party has not lost sight of the political repercussions the allegations about his business transactions will have on the party. While accepting that there is clamour for Gadkari's resignation, the party has firmly rejected the prospect of such a decision.
The comparisons with the resignation of senior leader L.K.Advani in the Jain hawala case allegations that came up in 1995 and that of Bangaru Laxman in 2001 in the wake of the tehelka sting opration where Laxman was shown accetping money on camera are being termed inappropriate.
What the party sources are clearly questioning is the timing of the disclosures. They believe that this was being done to stymy the re-election of Gadkari for a second term as party president in December, and they clearly see the hand of Congress.
It is not however denied that there is healthy rivalry in the party for the top post and this is being projected as a positive aspect in comparison to the Congress where the 'first family' (Nehru-Gandhis) alone are eligible for the top post and that there are other claimants to the party president's post.
Party insiders rule out that the negative news about Gadkari's businesses will have any effect on the outcome of the two states, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, going to elections in November/December. The BJP is in office in these two states.
It has been pointed out that corruption is not a burning issue in Himachal Pradesh, and even Congress' Virabhadra Singh would be affected by it. Secondly, in a state like Himachal Pradesh it is the local politicians and their caste which is uppermost in the mind of the party worker and that of the voter. Gadkari is not even a remote flicker on the state's political radar. And in Gujarat, no one but Narendra Modi matters in the state elections. The party president is not a figure to be reckoned with in Gujarat.
While this brings a sense of relief, the party insiders are not sitting back. They realise that the Gadkari story will not die away and that it will come back to haunt the party. So, they are working their lines of defense.
The first line of defense is that the party is unqualifiedly with Gadkari. This is not so much due to the fact that Gadkari enjoys unflagging loyalty from his party colleagues. It is due to a startegic awareness that the main opposition party cannot seen to be divided.
The party is defending Gadkari as party president and it is not offering a defense of the rightness of the businesses in themselves because the party do not know the details and also it is not the business of the party to get entangled in that bit.
It is also being said that the RSS's neutral tone of the defense of Gadkari is not to be interpreted as being cold towards Gadkari because the RSS generally does not defend individuals and it does not concern itself with the party's inner-goings on.
The second line of difference is that Gadkari has agreed to a probe and that there is a sense of transparency and honesty about the stance.