May put up token fight for BJP top job, says lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani

May put up token fight for BJP top job, says lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani
Mumbai Lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani is undecided about whether to run against Nitin Gadkari, who appears to be closing in on a second term as the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).  "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," Mr Jethmalani said in Mumbai today.

The party's ideological mentor, the RSS or Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh, has made it clear that  Mr Gadkari  must be given an unprecedented second term, though a business empire set up by him a few years ago is being investigated for financial malfeasance.

The BJP's veteran leader LK Advani had asked the RSS to consider either Sushma Swaraj, Leader of the Opposition, or Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi, for the party's top job.  However, he was refused.

The last date for filing nominations is Wednesday. Traditionally, the BJP's president has been elected unopposed with the party stressing that its leaders are consensus candidates.

Mahesh and his father Ram Jethmalani, who is an MP, aggressively demanded the resignation of Mr Gadkari a few months ago when reports suggested that the president's business interests were propped up by ghost investors.

BJP leaders like Mr Advani warn that the charges against Mr Gadkari will dent his party's campaign against the ruling Congress as the country heads to the general election next year.

The Congress-led UPA government has recently bungled with a series of large financial scandals in sectors ranging from telecom to the allocation of valuable coal fields among private companies.  The scams allowed the BJP to accuse the government of being riddled with graft.

Story First Published: January 21, 2013 15:45 IST

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