After blog controversy over Narendra Modi, RSS leader tries to contain fallout

New Delhi: Narendra Modi is designing the dissent within the party over whether its president Nitin Gadkari should continue in office, said a blog over the weekend by a senior leader of the BJP's ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS.

That comment by MG Vaidya exposed the conflicting agendas that have become public offerings since charges of financial malpractice encircled Mr Gadkari a month ago.

Today, Mr Vaidya tried to contain the damage from his blog, stating, "I only said that the needle of suspicion points towards Modi."

He was much more direct in his blog, written in Marathi, where he said, "Narendra Modi might have felt that Gadkari as the BJP president will hamper his chances of becoming the Prime Minster." It is critical for the BJP to remain and appear united, he says, warning, "There is no need to deliberate over the PM candidate for 2014 now in 2012."

The BJP said this morning that Mr Vaidya's view was "personal."  

Charges of financial malpractice in his business empire have piled up against Mr Gadkari - the government is investigating whether firms who bought into his sugar and power empire were ghost investors.

Those within the BJP who remain on Mr Gadkari's team recognise that he serves as an effective check against Mr Modi, who is poised to deliver Gujarat for a third consecutive term to his party in December's elections, and expects as his reward to be named the BJP's nominee for prime minister for the general elections in 2014.

His supporters see this as the right time to engineer the side-lining of Mr Gadkari so that the new president is someone who enjoys a good rapport with Mr Modi - sources say Arun Jaitley is a favourite for this camp.

To combat the scheming, and to protect its own turf - the RSS selected Mr Gadkari as BJP president in 2009 - the RSS has pressured the BJP into pledging its support for Mr Gadkari, at least on record. The BJP said last week that he will complete his term as president till it expires in December. However, in a sign of the growing chasm within, senior BJP leader LK Advani did not attend the meeting at which the party endorsed Mr Gadkari, declaring that he was not guilty of "legal or moral wrongdoing."

The demand for Mr Gadkari's term to be aborted was voiced on record by lawyer and BJP parliamentarian Ram Jethmalini and his son, Mahesh. However, Mr Vaidya said today that they appear to be speaking on behalf of Mr Modi. "He (Modi) is using Jethmalani to fulfill his plans," Mr Vaidya said.