BJP Sends Gadkari on ‘Exile’

NEW DELHI: BJP chief Nitin Gadkari has invariably, well almost, addressed a rally in the Capital whenever the party has planned a nationwide campaign during his tenure. However, he will be in Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh when the party takes to the streets against the government on November 21 over corruption and FDI in retail, a departure which is seen as significant in view of the troubles facing him.

During the campaign for Himachal Pradesh polls too, Gadkari had chosen to campaign in a remote corner of the state in what was seen as a move to project a business-as-usual impression. However, that was before S Gurumurthy, a Hindutva proponent who is a chartered accountant by training, gave him an “all clear” on the charges against Purti’s funding. As per the duty roster released by the BJP, almost all bigwigs have been assigned the party’s known strongholds. Thus, two of Gadkari’s predecessors — Rajnath Singh and Murli Manohar Joshi — will participate in rallies in New Delhi while Arun Jaitley will lead the protests in Mumbai.

Ananth Kumar has been assigned Lucknow while Gopinath Munde and Venkaiah Naidu have decided to focus on their home turfs of Maharashtra and Hyderabad. Many in the party feel Gadkari would have led the charge in the capital had it not been for the allegations about Purti’s funding. Party vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi advised against reading significance into the allocation of protest sites.

On Gadkari’s choice of Itanagar, he said, “Polls are due in Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura and since Itanagar is close to these states, Gadkari is going there.” However, party leaders feel that the Purti episode has undercut Gadkari’s stature to be the bearer of the party’s anti-corruption standard.

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