New Delhi: The needle of suspicion in the campaign against BJP chief Nitin Gadkari points to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue MG Vaidya said on Monday, triggering debate on the faultlines in the ranks of the party and its mentor.
As Vaidya backed the comment made in his blog on Sunday, the RSS quickly clarified that his was not the official view of the organisation. And the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said Vaidya`s views were wrong.
Gadkari has been under attack for alleged financial impropriety in connection with his Purti Group. Mahesh Jethmalani, also BJP MP Ram Jethmalani`s son, quit the party national executive last week protesting Gadkari`s continuation in office in the wake of allegations against him.
"The roots of the campaign against Nitin Gadkari have to be in Gujarat because when Ram Jethmalani demanded Gadkari`s resignation, he also demanded that Narendra Modi be made the prime ministerial candidate of the party," Vaidya was quoted as saying in an English translation of his Marathi blog.
Explaining his blog entry, Vaidya told Times Now channel on Monday: "And because Jethmalani has combined the two things in one statement, demanding Nitin Gadkari`s resignation and making Narendra Modi as PM, I said that the needle of suspicion goes to Gujarat. I only said needle of suspicion goes towards Modi and that there is a suspicion. If Jethmalani is entitled to his own point of view I also am entitled to my own point of view."
He said the RSS "has nothing to do with it".
Vaidya`s son and RSS leader Manmohan Vaidya clarified on the news channel that these were his father`s personal views. "These are not the Sangh`s official opinion... If the Sangh has to give an opinion, it will do so."
BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu was also quick to denounce Vaidya. Addressing a press conference in Chennai, he said the remarks were Vaidya`s personal opinion.
"That is his idea, I don`t know where he got the information (about Modi being involved). It is wrong..."
Naidu also said that the RSS has not "expressed any such view. It is not the authorised view of the RSS".
The Congress refused to comment, except to say that it was the BJP and RSS`s internal matter.
In his blog, Vaidya also wrote: "Modi himself seems to have strong prime ministerial ambitions because LK Advani and Nitin Gadkari have already said that they are not in the race for the PM. But Narendra Modi has still not said anything on this issue."
"Narendra Modi might have felt that Gadkari as the BJP president will hamper his chances of becoming the prime minister. He is using Jethmalani to fulfil his plans," the senior RSS leader alleged.
He also criticised Jethmalani for his open revolt against Gadkari, saying: "Ram Jethmalani should not have expressed his displeasure against Nitin Gadkari publicly. Any BJP member or MP can feel that Nitin Gadkari should resign, but they should raise this issue on the party platform."
On who would be party`s prime ministerial candidature, he said: "This is not the right time to decide. The party which gets the highest numbers of MPs in the Lok Sabha will decide when the results are declared in 2014. I don`t think that Narendra Modi will get a chance to lead the party in elections."