Gadkari set for another term as BJP Prez or will Jethmalani play spoiler?

Backed by the RSS, Nitin Gadkari seems set to get a second consecutive term as BJP President, but he may not win without a contest. While initial reports suggested BJP senior leader, LK Advani had proposed Sushma Swaraj's name for the post, there could be a new contender in the form of aggrieved BJP MP Ram Jethmalani, who might take on Gadkari in the election.

The party issued its notification on Sunday for its Presidential elections and Gadkari is expected to submit his nomination for the top post.

BJP sources said RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat spoke to LK Advani and is understood to have discussed the party Presidential poll. RSS is keen that Gadkari gets a second tenure as BJP chief.

Despite that Advani was said to be keen on nominating Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj for the post, she has reportedly shown no interest in taking the post. Suggestions of nominating Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi have also been shot down by the leader and his supporters.

However, MP Ram Jethmalani, who earlier demanded Gadkari's resignation over corruption charges, might  contest against Gadkari, reported ibnlive.

There were reports that Jethmalani had been accepted back into the party after senior leader LK Advani intervened on his behalf but if he does oppose Gadkari's candidature it could lead to more fireworks.

NDA leaders L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari and Sharad Yadav at a meeting in New Delhi in this file photo. PTI

There has been growing demand within BJP that the leadership issue be sorted out soon as Lok Sabha elections are due next year. Gadkari has been facing corruption charges and rebellion within BJP.

Nomination papers for the top post will be filed on January 23 from 10 AM to 11.30 AM and scrutiny will be held from 11.30 AM to 12 noon.

A date for election will be declared if required after the withdrawal of  nomination between 12 to 12.30 pm, a BJP statement said.
In the absence of any contest, the elected candidate will be declared at 12.30 pm on 23 January.

The party parried questions over the reported internal squabbling for giving a second term to Gadkari.

Asked whether Advani has proposed the name of Swaraj for the president's post, BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, "We don't have a dynasty but a democracy and there should not be any confusion over it. We have an internal democracy and constitution in the party. According to that we conduct elections from regional to national level and that election process is on."

About other names also being floated for the contest, he said, "You will be told about it and the nominations also. Nothing will be done in a clandestine manner."

Gadkari side-stepped questions on BJP presidential aspirants.

"I have never ever bothered whether I get the post of party president or not. I will always continue working as a grassroot worker of the BJP," he said.

(with inputs from PTI)