New Delhi: Nitin Gadkari has done it again. But this time around he has hit the core of the ideological family that he represents, the Sangh Parivar and the party that he heads as its president, the BJP. His rather bizarre equation of Swami Vivekananda's intelligence quotient (IQ) level with fugitive underworld don Dawoood Ibrahim, whose name figures on top of India's most wanted has surprised and shocked even his supporters in the party.
Gadkari could not have chosen a worse time to proclaim himself as psycho-analyst who has laid his hands on the non-existent IQ test results of an all time revered Sanyasi and Pakistan-based don. In any case, he is under tremendous pressure to save two things that would matter to him most at the politically young age of 55 -- his personal credentials and his second term in office as party president. He is currently under investigation by various central government agencies for alleged wrongful deals for his business venture, Purti Group.
If those headlines were fading out a bit and the party leadership under pressure from the RSS was working hard to be seen to be supportive of him and blaming it on government machinations and "agenda reporting" by a section of media, then his latest headline grabbing Swami Vivekananda-Dawood Ibrahim statement has raised fresh questions. Unfortunately, for him these statements will allow all those around him to relate to his own intelligence quotient.
The rival Congress is simply thriving on Gadkari's goof-up. Congress' ever so vocal general secretary Digvijaya Singh took a swipe at both Gadkari and Narendra Modi in his tweet, "In a function in Bhopal, Gadkari said, 'IQ of Swami Vivekananda and Dawood Ibrahim was same'. Any comment from Modi and his fans?"
Another Congress leader Jagdambika Pal too came out swinging.
"On what basis is he comparing Dawood Ibrahim to Swami Vivekananda? What would the BJP say if tomorrow someone equates Gadkari's IQ with Kasab's?" Pal asked.
If Digvijaya is taking a dig at Modi, there are several in the BJP who are looking up to Modi to take a position on the subject, perhaps not in public, but with those in the RSS, who will matter in deciding the fate of the incumbent BJP president. Modi had kicked off his month long election campaign titled Vivekanand Yuva Vikas Yatra in Gujarat. Senior party leader, LK Advani quoted Vivekananda extensively in his concluding speech at recent BJP conclave in Surajkund.
In Sangh Parivar's ideological framework where they did not have their own icons from history, they strived to adopt icons from Indian history and there too Swami Vivekanand holds no less a revered position, perhaps even more than the RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hegdewar aka Guruji.
Gadkari’s clarification on landing in Delhi that he was not making a comparison between Vivekananda and Dawood but was drawing a contrast has not convinced many in the party.
"I said, among those who use their IQ wisely is Vivekanada and one who doesn't is evil like Dawood Ibrahim," Gadkari clarified.
The BJP president has been known for making rough edged remarks in private, but a slip when he was trying to prove himself intellectually at felicitation function in Bhopal is worrying the party leaders when they are trying to keep the focus on Congress, and more so on the First Family’s misdeeds.
A number of BJP leaders are privately debating whether this would the "Jinnah moment" for Gadkari. Advani had to lose the BJP president position and authority earned over the years over his Jinnah-secularism remark made in Pakistan in 2005. But then it was the RSS which wanted control over the BJP and therefore seized on Advani's statement on Jinnah to trounce him. Former Union Minister Jaswant Singh was thrown out of the party because of his book on Jinnah.
In Gadkari's case, the party leaders are broadly against him, but the RSS, more so its chief Mohan Bhagwat, is so far providing a protective shield to his protégé. But if the Vivekananda-Dawood issue turns into an ideological battle, then Gadkari is in trouble.