The BJP, struggling to find a party chief who would be acceptable to the RSS, various factions with the party and the NDA allies, has finally given the thumbs up to Rajnath Singh.
In an evening full of suspense over the choice of the party’s leader, the party mulled the names Yashwant Sinha, BC Khanduri and some others before putting its stamp of approval on the former party president.
The case of Nitin Gadkari, the BJP president who looked set for a second term till the end despite voices of resentment within the party, was finally ruined by the Income Tax action on his controversial company, Purti group of industries. He was strongly backed by the RSS’s leadership for the top job and even the party’s constitution was amended to make way for his second term as party president. According to media reports, he has resigned as party president.
In an interview to a television channel Gadkari said that he had refused to take up the position again till he comes out clean in the investigations going on against him.
"I don't want my party to suffer because of me. Since the probe is still on, I myself decided to refrain from taking up the position of the party President. I have no involvement in any corrupt organisation. However, I will still wait for the probe to be completed to tell the world that the allegations against me were false. I shall fully cooperate with the new party president."
As the deadline to elect the BJP president drew closer, party leader Mahesh Jethmalani, a known adversary of Gadkari offered to put up a token contest. However, his case was rejected since he did not meet the eligibility norms. The plot thickened when senior leader Yashwant Sinha hinted at challenging Gadkari. After an intense discussion in the evening the BJP finally zeroed in on Rajnath Singh, the leader from UP.
Rajnath Singh, though a comparative lightweight compared to the stalwarts in the BJP, is known to enjoy the confidence of the RSS. Also, he is known to be acceptable to all the factions in the party, including that of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. He is also close to JD(U) leaders Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar.
In December 2005, Singh, a former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, was unanimously elected the BJP's national president after LK Advani quit the post after falling foul of mother organisation, the RSS. After staring off with disappointing results in five states in May 2006, he tasted success in the form of BJP’s victories in Uttarakhand and Punjab the next year. In 2008, the BJP formed its first ever government in south India, in Karnataka. Under his guidance, the party won in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.