Anti-Nitin Gadkari feud escalates as Ram Jethmalani's son Mahesh offers BJP's in-house challenge

ANI Posted: Jan 21, 2013 at 1303 hrs
New Delhi Notwithstanding RSS' backing, Nitin Gadkari may not get elected as BJP president for a second straight term unopposed, with dissident leader Mahesh Jethmalani today hinting at entering the fray for a "token" fight.

"I just said there should be a contest if Mr Gadkari is contesting. If I have to engage in a token fight, I may decide," Mahesh told reporters here today.

He, however, clarified that he has not "given a thought" to the matter as yet.

Mahesh, who had resigned from BJP national executive in November last year to put pressure on Gadkari to step down from his post in the wake of allegations of financial impropriety, was not very straightforward about his intention to contest.

"I don't know from where these rumours (that he will contest against Gadkari) are originating. I am not among the claimants (to BJP chief's post)," he said.

When repeatedly questioned by reporters outside the Bombay High Court, Mahesh, son of BJP veteran Ram Jethmalani, whose suspension was recently revoked by the party after a truce with Gadkari, said he would make known his decision later in

the day.

Asked whether he had spoken to any senior BJP leaders about contesting for the party's top job, the Oxford-educated lawyer said, "Who will I talk to? I am a small person, only an ordinary worker."

Mahesh and his father Ram Jethmalani, also a party MP, were both vocal in demanding the resignation of Gadkari as BJP president in the wake of reported irregularities in the Purti Group.

With RSS backing Gadkari to the hilt, a consensus had appeared to have emerged yesterday on a second term for him.

Senior party leader L K Advani, who had reservations about a fresh term for Gadkari, had reportedly agreed to it as a consensus on any other candidate proved elusive.

According to the notification for BJP's presidential election issued yesterday, nomination papers for the top post will be filed on January 23 from 10 am to 11.30 am. 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. In the absence of any contest, the elected candidate will be declared at 12.30 pm the same day.