Chennai: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is continuing to play safe on Nitin Gadkari, the man it picked to be BJP president and who is now mired in corruption charges that his party can politically ill-afford. The BJP's parent body said at a meeting in Chennai that it had "no soft corner" for anyone and no different yardstick on corruption.
Top leaders of the extended RSS family, some 400 people, are meeting over three days in Chennai. On the first day of that executive council meet, the RSS stuck to its stand on the Gadkari issue, saying that if there are any allegations against anyone, due process of law should take place. "Those who are found guilty should be punished according to the law", RSS Joint General Secretary Dattatreya Hosabele told reporters after the inauguration of the RSS National Executive Council meet at Kelambakkam.
The RSS' dilemma is that it has taken a vocal stand on corruption in its backing of Anna Hazare's movement and in slamming the Congress on issues like the 2G scam. It has to maintain that stand now. At the same time, its own man Nitin Gadkari, who it handpicked to be BJP president and also ensured an unprecedented second term for, is accused of allegations that include the suggestion that his business empire is founded in financial malpractices ranging from funding by shell companies to money laundering - charges now being investigated by income tax officials. The possibility of that second term for Mr Gadkari now looks very remote.
Last week the RSS distanced itself from the Gadkari controversy with an emailed statement. "It has been an article of faith with the RSS that any individual or organisation in any illegal activity must be subjected to impartial probe," the RSS said "We are saddened with efforts to drag the RSS name into these allegations," it said, stressing that the charges had not been investigated by an authorised agency.
By striding away from the controversy, the RSS had reinvigorated its frisson with the BJP. Today it indicated that there would be no resolution at its meet on either the Gadkari matter or any other issue related to the BJP.
Mr Gadkari's party, the BJP too has stood by him on record; but privately, sources say, the BJP is shaken up by the allegations against its president and their potential ability to derail its focus on offering itself as a corruption-free alternative to the Congress, which is ensnared in a series of swindles.
The BJP president cancelled a second round of campaigning in Himachal Pradesh this week and instead went to Mumbai, where he said the corruption charges were "attempts being made to slander me, to destroy my reputation."
Mr Gadkari has offered to cooperate with any inquiry against him; a move vocally lauded by both his party and the RSS.
Earlier this month, NDTV reported on the dubious credentials of investor firms that bought into the company Mr Gadkari co-founded in 2000, Purthi Power and Sugar. The government is verifying the source of funds for this intricate matrix of investors, many of who appear to share bogus addresses and directors.
(with PTI inputs)