Long road ahead for Nitin Gadkari

Ravikiran DeshmukhPolitics is a game of uncertainties. It’s always difficult to predict which step will lead one to the ladder of success and which rung will lead to one’s downfall. Nitin Gadkari, once considered a political heavyweight especially after his wild card entry into national politics thanks to his excellent rapport with RSS top leadership, is back to square one.

He has vowed to come clean of the charges of dubious financial deals related to Purti group, promoted by him. Even if the political circle in Delhi claims a lobby within the party worked overtime, forcing Gadkari to vacate his chair, the truth, according to people from Nagpur, is that he was disowned by the RSS at a very crucial juncture.

People, who are well-versed with the RSS ideology and working style, say the organisation never compromises on the issue of character. Gadkari, with the issues stalking him in recent times and RSS having a second thought on backing him, was left with no choice but to make way for Rajnath Singh, who was kept ready to assume the new role.

And Rajnath Singh was not a last minute choice. Such developments do not happen all of sudden and most importantly without the knowledge of RSS. The BJP cannot delink itself from RSS, given the fact that the organisation always played the role of its backbone with its huge network. It has always deputed its men to assume charge of the party. And whoever loses its support, slips from the ladders.

A recent visit to Matoshree where Singh met Uddhav Thackeray is also being looked upon in a different way. There is ample scope to believe that Singh could have had a discussion over the future developments with the Shiv Sena being an important ally of NDA. Also, on the party level, Singh had no other assignment in Mumbai.

All seemed well for Gadkari until the Income Tax department decided to summon firms who made investments in Purti group and all hell broke loose. The atmosphere that was favourable for the Nagpur man suddenly changed leaving his supporters stunned.

What happened at the last moment is still a mystery as it was perceived that there was some sort of understanding between the BJP and Congress as, the Saffron party never made Robert Vadra’s investments an issue to embarrass Congress leadership for long. Even the Congressmen never went ahead with the link between Gadkari and Ajay Sancheti, a Nagpur man who is a big time player in irrigation works and other infrastructure projects.

Such calculations got another twist when Congress, despite knowing that Gadkari was preparing to contest Nagpur Lok Sabha, held by its senior MP Vilas Muttemwar, the party ignored him a berth in the union cabinet reshuffle. It came as a shock for Congressmen in Vidarbha as their representation came to nil when Mukul Wasnik had to lose his job as Social Justice Minister in Dr Manmohan Singh’s cabinet.

After his exit from Delhi office, it will be interesting to watch what role Gadkari would play in the near future. Though he has announced to make a comeback to Delhi politics and trying his luck for a Lok Sabha berth, his role in Maharashtra politics assume significance. For him, the election from Nagpur is considered easy mainly due to his bond of friendship with leaders from the rival parties and his four trusted men have been representing Assembly constituencies in Nagpur city.

He also enjoys considerable following in the state BJP and among the MLAs. He was credited for sending a strong contingent of 19 MLAs from Vidarbha to the state assembly. On the other hand, Gopinath Munde with whom Gadkari was never comfortable has just two MLAs from Marathwada region.

In the midst of battle of supremacy over the state organisation, Munde has been outmanoeuvred by Gadkari with most of his men holding important positions. The party in general and Gadkari, in particular, have already entrusted the job of leading the party for the next Assembly elections on Munde. But, the ticket distribution exercise will never be smooth as apart from Vidarbha, Gadkari’s men will have their say in Pune and Western Maharashtra. Munde enjoys backing in Mumbai with his man Raj Purohit as the city unit chief and others.

Due to this internal bickering only, the party was appeared divided between camps, over taking on against NCP for the spate of allegations of corruption, as it was in alliance at Pune Municipal Corporation till last year. Even today a group is supposed to be in good books of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and hesitant to nail the ministers involved in large scale irregularities.

The writer is Political Editor, MiD DAY 

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