BJP chief Nitin Gadkari stripped Sanjay Joshi, Narendra Modi’s bete noire, of all party responsibilities, completing the capitulation before Modi. The Gujarat CM secured Joshi’s exit from the party’s national executive as the price for attending the meeting of the key decision-making body last month in Mumbai, but was insisting on Joshi being divested of all key responsibilities as the pre-condition for a durable ceasefire with the party leadership and the RSS. The latest concession to Modi should cement his understanding with Gadkari and his mentors in the RSS. This confirms BJP’s willingness to propitiate Modi as well as his growing desire to leverage his popularity with the base to extract his pound of flesh. He attended the party’s Mumbai national executive on a triumphant note, overshadowing everyone else, although it was supposed to be Gadkari’s show. Joshi’s sidelining also attests to his new-found desire to project power at the centre. According to sources Gadkari had tried to persuade him to go easy on Joshi, now that he had secured his ouster from national executive. However, he gave in when the Gujarat CM stuck to his demand to remove from BJP affairs altogether. This is the second instance of a RSS pracharack on loan to the BJP being unceremoniously dumped to appease powerful party leaders. In 2000, partygeneral secretary K N Govindacharya was removed from the party at the instance of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Govindacharya, seen by many as the party’s ideologue and the man behind party’s experiment at social engineering, had incurred Vajpayee’s wrath by describing him as a “mask”, saying that it was L K Advani who called the shots in the party and the government.
A detractor of Modi who played a role in the latter being banished from Gujarat during the chief ministership of Keshubhai Patel, Joshi had been in Modi’s crosshairs for long. Gadkari’s quiet attempt to rehabilitate him at the instance of Sangh infuriated the Gujarat strongman who skipped the national executive meeting in New Delhi, and kept out of UP poll campaign. He had threatened to resign along with other members of the BJP national executive from Gujarat, if Joshi had been allowed to continue. Faced with the threat and with the crucial upcoming Gujarat polls, Gadkari and RSS were left with no option but to make do without Joshi. Interestingly, the ousted functionary had until last week maintained that he would continue to work for the party in UP. However, Modi would have none of it. It seems that the posters that surfaced in support of Joshi in Ahmedabad, suspected by some to be the handiwork of those are discomfited by new alignments, must have led the Gujarat CM to press for a swift compliance with his wish.