The BJP’s stand was announced after an informal meeting of party leaders late in the evening at Gadkari’s residence after he arrived in the capital. Before this meeting, Gadkari met veteran party leader L K Advani alone.
The meeting at Gadkari’s house was attended by the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley, party general secretaries Ram Lal, Vijay Goel and Dharmendra Pradhan, and spokespersons Prakash Javadekar, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Nirmala Sitharaman, among others.
“He (Gadkari) apprised party colleagues of all the facts with regard to the current issue. The party is solidly behind the president since he himself has offered to face an inquiry,” Javadekar said, and rejected suggestions that Gadkari had offered to quit.
“All media speculation about his resignation is baseless and untrue,” Javadekar asserted. While Gadkari will continue his programmes as party president as scheduled, Javadekar refused to respond to questions about Gadkari’s second term as party president.
While the party stressed that it was “unanimously” behind Gadkari, the script to defend Gadkari appeared to be written by the RSS and made public earlier in the evening when its general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi issued a statement that sought to blame some “selfish elements” behind the “sensationalism and carelessness” of what he said was a media trial to dilute the anti-corruption campaign against the UPA.
Joshi did not name Gadkari but suggested that so far the allegations had been levelled only by the media and were not the outcome of a probe by a competent agency.
“It must be borne in mind that the some of the allegations have been levelled by sections of the media only and an authorised agency is yet to look into those allegations . It also should be ensured that the faith and determination of the people of the country is not shaken due to sensationalism and carelessness,” Joshi said in his statement.
In this context, the RSS general secretary also feared that the current controversy appeared to serve the “real objective of some selfish elements” who want to take the “steam” out of the campaign against corruption. Joshi also said the “discourse on these allegations has turned more and more political” and echoed the BJP line that an impartial probe be allowed in the first place.
The RSS leader, however, admitted that “a lot of consternation in the general public” has been caused by the “allegations about certain irregularities in the corporate affairs of some political leaders”, again without naming Gadkari, and sought to distance the RSS from the controversy. “Everyone in the country knows that the Sangh has nothing to do with any of these allegations,” Joshi said.