New Delhi: Rajnath Singh was on Wednesday elected unopposed as the 12th BJP president after incumbent Nitin Gadkari quit the race following corruption allegations against him.
Rajnath Singh filed the nomination papers this morning, on the last day of filing nominations for the BJP presidential polls. As he was the sole candidate in the race, Rajnath was elected unopposed.
Earlier in the morning, the BJP’s parliamentary board had endorsed Rajnath’s name for the top post.
The BJP president has traditionally been elected unopposed.
Speaking after his election, Rajnath said the circumstances under which he has been elected president are not pleasant.
He defended Gadkari saying the party was with him in his fight for justice.
Everybody in the party wanted Gadkari to continue as the president for a second term, he added.
Rajnath hit out at the UPA government, saying the nation was facing many problems at this juncture.
People have expectations from the BJP to rid the nation of such problems, Rajnath said, adding “hope we will meet the people’s expectations”.
Rajnath Singh’s name dramatically cropped up in the BJP presidential poll battle after incumbent chief Gadkari surprisingly on Tuesday announced that he would not run for an unprecedented second consecutive term.
On a day of dramatic developments capped by Gadkari’s announcement, Rajnath Singh – also a former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and former party president – had on Tuesday emerged as the frontrunner in the BJP presidential poll battle.
Gadkari had till Tuesday afternoon appeared certain to be re-nominated. However, late in the evening Gadkari issued a statement saying he would not be seeking another term as president.
The development followed Tuesday`s Income Tax `surveys` of around nine locations connected to alleged financial wrongdoing by company linked to Gadkari and signals by party MP Yashwant Sinha that he could contest if Gadkari was re-nominated.
Informed sources said Advani also had reservations of Gadkari getting a second term in view of allegations surrounding the Purti group linked to him.
Rajnath Singh`s name emerged after a series of meetings involving party leaders Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu, Ram Lal and Ananth Kumar.
There was unease in sections of BJP over Gadkari`s continuance though the party gave him a clean chit following a probe done by S Gurumurthy, a financial analyst considered close to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
BJP leaders feared that his second term would come in the way of party`s all-out attack against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government on the issue of corruption in the run-up to a series of Assembly polls this year and Lok Sabha polls in 2014.
Sources said the RSS had been in favour of giving a second term to Gadkari despite apparent lack of warmth to the move by Advani. They said that Gadkari not getting a second term was an affirmation of Advani`s writ running in the BJP and also vis-à-vis RSS.
In his late evening statement, Gadkari accused the UPA government of spreading disinformation about him.
"I have committed no wrong or any impropriety either directly or indirectly. Yet the UPA government has been making an effort to spread disinformation about me in order to hurt me and my party... I do not wish that this should in any way adversely affect the interest of the BJP. I, have, therefore decided not to seek a second term as the president of the BJP," he said.
Sinha, who has been against Gadkari`s continuation as president, caused a flutter as he collected a nomination form and a copy of the voters` list from presidential poll in-charge Thawarchand Gehlot.
Another Gadkari-baiter and former member of the BJP`s national executive, lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani had indicated on Monday that he could contest against Gadkari if no one else does.
Party sources said Sushma Swaraj`s name was also being mentioned as a probable candidate but she did not accept the offer.