RSS boasts clout in BJP with Rajnath Singh’s entry
New Delhi: As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentary board endorsed Rajnath Singh’s name as the next party president, Rashtirya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) once again displayed its clout in the BJP appointments by pushing through the choice of Rajnath for president. Also, senior leaders of the principal opposition party were worried about nominating a leader who is tainted by allegations of graft so close to the general elections scheduled for 2014. The RSS chucked out Gadkari from the scene as the threat of Income Tax raids and multiple controversies surrounding the Purti Power and Sugar Limited loomed ahead. Meanwhile, the public revelation of Gadkari's vulnerabilities became too massive for the Sangh to ignore.
Rajnath’s nomination had been vehemently opposed by party veteran LK Advani in the early rounds of consultations between the RSS and the BJP leadership over the party president's election. However, clinging on to Nitin Gadkari for a second term would have meant that BJP is going to be led by a person under constant threat of being tainted by corruption scandals. Sushma Swaraj was Advani’s initial choice for this post, which was opposed by the RSS quarter.
As the principal opposition party is facing a direct contest with the Congress in assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Delhi and Chhattisgarh later this year. By endorsing someone like Gadkari, the Sangh would have presented the Congress with a readymade counter to the BJP's charges against corruption. So Gadkari had to remove himself from the contest. That leaves Rajnath as the strongest contender notwithstanding the last-minute posturing by Yashwant Sinha and Mahesh Jethmalani as the party readies to elect its president on Wednesday, January 23.