Senior RSS ideologue M G Vaidya today triggered a major controversy by giving voice to murmurs that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was behind Ram Jethmalani's demand for Nitin Gadkari's resignation but the BJP chief and the sangh came out with denials snubbing him.
Known for speaking his mind, Vaidya wrote on his blog that the "needle of suspicion in the campaign against BJP president Nitin Gadkari points to Gujarat BJP and Chief Minister Narendra Modi".
He also noted that "Ram Jethmalani had in one breath said he is seeking the resignation of Gadkari and that he also wanted to see Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister in 2014."
Notwithstanding the denials, Vaidya stood his ground today saying there seemed to be unrest in the BJP and the lack of solidarity was evident with members openly expressing their resentment.
"It is my opinion and because Jethmalani has combined two things demanding Gadkari's resignation and making Narendra Modi as PM. I think that the needle of suspicion goes to Gujarat.
"I just said that needle of suspicion goes to Modi and that raises suspicion if Jethmalani is entitled to his own point of view, I am also entitled to my point of view and RSS has nothing to do with it."
BJP and RSS normally ignore Vaidya's writings and utterances but this time both were quick in distancing themselves from his views. BJP said the allegation is baseless.
"The writer has tried to link recent comments by one of the party MPs (Jethmalani) with Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat. The BJP completely rejects such insinuation as it is totally unfounded," Gadkari said in a statement.
Interestingly, Gadkari described Vaidya only as a senior journalist.
RSS Prachar Pramukh (Propaganda Chief) Manmohan Vaidya also issued a statement saying the article only expresses the "personal views" of M G Vaidya and is not the official view of the Sangh.
There had been rumours within the BJP that Jethmalani and his son Mahesh were speaking against Gadkari at the behest of Modi but nobody had come out openly to state this. Jethmalani is known to be close to Modi and is also involved in defending the Chief Minister as a lawyer in the 2002 riots cases.
While Gadkari has firmly stated that he is not in the race to be BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate, Vaidya, a former spokesman of the RSS, said he "has not read anywhere that Narendra Modi has denied reports of his ambition to become the Prime Minister."
Reacting to Vaidya's remarks, BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu said, "No such information has been given to us. We are not reacting at all. Let the inquiry be over, let there be no trial outside, it is not fair. I don't know from where this information came. I don't think that this is view of RSS. I can also tell you".
Jethmalani had claimed to have the support of Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Satrughan Sinha when he raised the demand for Gadkari's resignation in the wake of charges of dubious funding of his Purti Group.
In his statement today, Gadkari said the party is united and is fighting the Gujarat elections with complete unity of purpose and mutual confidence.
"All central leaders of the party and its Chief Ministers have been working cohesively and unitedly for the cause of the party... BJP is firmly and unitedly behind Narendra Modi and we are confident that the party will win decisively in the ensuing assembly elections," Gadkari said.