New Delhi, Oct. 27: Nitin Gadkari may be able to complete his term as party president thanks to RSS fears of an Advani takeover and the BJP's reluctance to yield straightaway to media pressure and an alleged Congress game plan.
Gadkari, who offered to resign yesterday after the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh distanced itself from his business dealings, won a breather today with the parent organisation telling the BJP brass to maintain status quo for now. Gadkari's term ends on December 19.
The Sangh feared that if Gadkari quit right now, the so-called "Delhi Four" ' L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Ananth Kumar ' might regain the upper hand in the BJP.
Besides, sources said, the BJP refused to countenance being "dictated to by inquisitorial TV channels baying for Gadkari's blood".
"Why should we allow so-and-so to tell us who should be sacked and who should be brought in?" a senior BJP official said, referring to a television anchor.
Sources said there had been back-fence talk about Advani wishing to do a holding operation as BJP head till a new incumbent was "elected". This unnerved the Sangh because if Advani took over, his appointment would have to be formalised sooner than later, and for three years at that.
A person close to Advani junked the speculation but other sources claimed the Sangh refused to dismiss the scenario, given some BJP leaders' "propensity" for carrying their "backroom manipulations" to their logical end.
Next, the name of another senior leader from the Delhi cabal was mentioned as Gadkari's successor. This too was not to the liking of the Sangh, especially its chief Mohanrao Bhagwat, because of what insiders described as a "trust deficit".
So, despite yesterday's pious statement from Sangh No. 2 Suresh "Bhaiyyaji" Joshi about probes into "illegal" money deals and punishment for the guilty, the BJP brass was told to cool its heels till the government's official investigation, supposedly under way, was over.
Joshi today told reporters it's the BJP that will decide Gadkari's fate and denied that the Sangh was his "godfather". He suggested that since Gadkari had himself sought a probe, the "law must be allowed to run its course".
BJP sources claimed the Gadkari controversy was "instigated and pumped up" by the Congress to try and resurrect infighting in the main Opposition ahead of the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh polls. They said the BJP "must not succumb to such machinations".
"The Congress is guilty of amassing lakhs of crores but its leaders continue to be in power. Why must the onus be on the BJP to prove its probity all the time? Gadkari, or whoever else, will quit when it suits us politically."
The BJP feels the Himachal polls would be a "test case" of whether the corruption charges against Gadkari would affect votes. More so because Gadkari had landed up in the state against the wishes of Himachal BJP leaders who wanted him to have no part in their corruption campaign against the Congress's Virbhadra Singh.
It is unclear whether Narendra Modi would welcome Gadkari into Gujarat.
Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh has warned that having Gadkari in office would "expose" the BJP's "lack of conviction" in the fight against corruption.