BJP drops Nitin Gadkari, says Rajnath Singh to be president

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BJP leader Yashwant Sinha BJP leader Yashwant Sinha
SummaryHigh drama unfolded in the BJP today on the eve of election of a new party president.

still firmly backing Gadkari, he is likely to get another three years at the helm.

Sinha created a flutter this evening when he procured a nomination form and voters' list from Chief Electoral Officer, Thawar Chand Gehlot. Advani declined to anwser newsmen's questions as to whether Sinha, a former Union Minister, is in the race.

Confirming this, Gehlot said Sinha is the only person to have taken the form from him till now. However, he hastened to add that the forms are easily available on the party website and state headquarters of the BJP.

Earlier in the day, Mahesh Jethmalani said he is being denied a nomination form to prevent him from contesting.

Party veterans point out that despite all the pretense of an election of the BJP President, the stringent provisions of the party Constitution will make it difficult for the forms of Sinha and Jethmalani to be accepted.

A candidate for the BJP Presidential poll should have been an active member of the party for 12 consecutive years and an ordinary member for 15 years. He would also need at least 20 proposers each from five different state units, which adds upto 100.

While Mahesh Jethmalani fails to qualify, Sinha is unlikely to get 100 proposers from five states.

Asked by reporters about today's developments, Advani said, "I have nothing to say at this moment."

But there were murmurs within BJP about Advani and his team still being unhappy with Gadkari being given a second term in the wake of charges of dubious funding of the Purti Group with which he has been associated in the past.

The Income Tax authorities created some unease for Gadkari and his camp when they conducted on-field inquiries on some "shell" companies which had invested in Purti Power and Sugar Limited.

Gadkari came out with a prompt statement condemning these inquiries by the IT authorities as "calculated, mischievous and politically motivated". He described the "highly questionable move" as a "command performance at the behest of its political masters sitting in New Delhi who have hatched a political conspiracy to tarnish his image".

Interestingly, the statement said the IT department's action has

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