NDTV Correspondent | Updated: June 09, 2012 00:39 IST
Sources say Mr Joshi has resigned from primary membership of the BJP to bring about a truce between Mr Gadkari and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has had a bitter rivalry with Mr Joshi for years and was opposed to his being brought back into the party.
The sources say with the BJP's deep internal crisis playing out for all to see, the party's parent body the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) stepped in to bring about peace. So Mr Joshi, first made to resign from the BJP national executive on May 24 to ensure that a sulking Mr Modi would not boycott a meeting of senior leaders in Mumbai, had to resign from the party today. Mr Joshi, who has been an RSS pracharak, will return to the Sangh.
The resignation comes soon after some posters appeared in Mr Modi's Ahmedabad praising Mr Joshi and obliquely criticizing the Gujarat CM. No one has claimed responsibility, but the posters underscore a deep dissent in the BJP ranks. Anti-Modi leaders have been grouping in Gujarat, which is headed for elections late this year.
All eyes will now be on a two-day meeting of the Gujarat BJP unit beginning tomorrow in Rajkot. Today's development, sources say, will send out the message in the state and elsewhere that Mr Modi is the undisputed leader, murmurs of dissent from people like Keshubhai Patel notwithstanding. Mr Modi has his task cut out - to win Gujarat for the third straight time. Then he is largely expected to make his way to Delhi for a bigger role at the national level.
This is an RSS story. The RSS sees Mr Modi as the future face of the BJP. Mr Gadkari too is a man handpicked by the RSS, which ensured an unprecedented second term for him as party President at last month's national executive meet. The Sangh reportedly sees the party's reigns in the hands of these two leaders soon and with the 2014 General elections looming, it is essential that the two men have a smooth relationship. So Mr Joshi, an RSS man too, was withdrawn.
Today's development also brings to the fore the division within the party over the RSS's role in the BJP's affairs. Mr Gadkari, handpicked by the RSS, which has also forced a change of rules to hand him an unprecedented second term as party chief, is not popular among many top BJP leaders including LK Advani. Mr Advani wrote in his blog recently, "The UPA is sliding but people are disappointed with the BJP. The party's handling of Karnataka and Jharkhand has undermined its anti-graft stand."
There has been some strong criticism of Mr Modi over the Sanjay Joshi episode. Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, was quoted today by Economic Times as saying that the manner in which Sanjay Joshi was dropped was not right. "One should not try to hijack the BJP and force a decision on it...This has not gone down well in the Sangh Parivar," Mr Joshi said.
A recent editorial in the BJP magazine, the Kamal Sandesh, offered a harsh assessment of Mr Modi. Without naming him, the article warned that no leader should consider himself or herself bigger than the party. It also said, "People who attain heights should raise the level of their thoughts...it's been seen, people who attain heights glare down at people below them." The reference to Mr Modi was apparent.
Sanjay Joshi, first sent to the BJP by the RSS in 1988 to use his organizational skills in building the party in Gujarat, had to leave the BJP in some ignominy in 2005 over a sleaze CD. After six years in political exile he was brought back last year by Mr Gadkari, to play a key role in the BJP's UP election campaign. Mr Gadkari handpicked him for the role, reportedly with the blessings of the RSS.
Mr Modi opposed the move. He skipped an important party meet in October last year and also refused to campaign for the UP elections because of Mr Joshi's presence. Last month Mr Modi refused to attend the national executive meet in Mumbai because Mr Joshi was there. He is reported to have threatened to resign from the party's national council. Mr Joshi sent his resignation from the party's national executive on the morning that the meet was to begin; Mr Modi acquiesced and landed in Mumbai that afternoon.
Become friends with your favourite NDTV people and shows. Start now »