Nitin Gadkari, National President of BJP addressing media person in a press meet a Hotel Gateway in Guwahati on 13-05-12.Pix by UBPHOTOS
In Defence of the Man
This article originally appeared in CRI content has now been subsumed in The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of

The BJP’s constitution, yes there is one, limits the holder of the President’s post to a single term. That at least is the rule, but of course there are exceptions. And that exception if press speculation is to be noted  is  Nitin Gadkari. Why Nitin you ask!

Is he exceptional in any sense of the word or spirit? Let’s see; he does not have the stature or the intellectual aura of a Shourie. He is not a party apparatchik in the Advani mould. And is certainly not  a electoral star like Narendra Modi.  In fact he cuts an awkward figure, is pudgy enough to not be taken seriously in the oh so ‘serious’ business of politics. Yet, he is where he is and dare I say, the party is better for it.

The fuss over this supposed extension, like the fuss over pretty much everything in the BJP is in my view, quite unnecessary. With the BJP, it seems that every event requires discourse predicting apocalyptic consequences. E.g. ‘The BJP is facing an existential crisis’ etc. etc.

It has become routine to hear stuff like, the BJP is facing an existential crisis and needs a core new issue, new face and frankly new everything to revive itself.

Bollocks, I say.

What new ideal do Akhilesh Yadav, Jayalalitha & Mamata Banerjee (disaster even by Bengali standards) represent?

Electoral success is a consequence of several things, some tangible mostly intangible.

That is not say that mediocrity be accepted, but frankly with the UPA and the Congress party in suicide mode, the BJP has to simply remain in existence as a coherent alternative unit and things will fall in place. Why this desperation then for something ‘extraordinary’ that will revive the party? Sometimes ‘ordinary’ managerial competence is all that is required. And Gadkari has plenty of that.

After all, the BJP needs to finish in a position better than that of the Congress’s, not build a new civilisation.

Nitin Gadkari has not done anything particularly wrong and sometimes that’s enough. He allows state chieftains to run their units as they wish. And that is only right as BJP has got the federalism issue quite right with a glorious few exceptions. Leave aside U.P., where Gadkari brought in Uma Bharti and it did not work every major state where BJP is a player has a competent chieftain in charge.

Unlike Rajnath, there has been no evidence of any skulduggery or pettiness. General Kandhuri was rightly restored to the CM’s post.  Vasundhara, the recent events notwithstanding was given control of Rajasthan. No sitting CM (Pokhriyal apart) has been made uncomfortable. The Parliamentary wing of the party led by Jaitley & Swaraj has performed, aided in no small measure by the incompetence of the UPA, very well.

Yes, Karnataka is a mess, but frankly such power politics & intrigue has not happened in Indian politics and the BJP for the first time. There is nothing one can do with ‘netas’ as opportunist and fickle minded as some in Karnataka. Mr.Vajpayee at his peak could not hold off Kalyan Singh.

The BJP undeservedly retained Punjab. It performed extremely well in Bihar and Goa. Yes, it lost  in Uttarakhand , but Khanduri was de-stabilized and Pokhriyal installed during Rajnath’s term .Gadkari did his best to reverse that and Khanduri made a match of an otherwise lost election. The party is in poll position in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

This is not to say, that Gadkari is responsible for the party’s success in Bihar, Goa or Gujarat but he has not been an obstacle either.

Most decisions, he takes are after consensus and is humble, perhaps even naive at times.

What then is the problem really?