BJPs first national executive in over nine months, in the backdrop of the falling rupee and soaring fuel prices, should have been an occasion for the party to let out an electoral war cry against the UPA government. Instead, it turned out to be yet another occasion for the partys internal strife to come out in the open.
The war of nerves between Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and the party organisation came to a head on Wednesday night.
Modi, sources confirmed, refused to attend the national executive for the second time in nine months, till his chief detractor in the party, Sanjay Joshi, was removed from his post as special invitee to the national executive.
On Thursday morning, BJP president Nitin Gadkari said announced that Joshi had quit and that Modi was on his way to Mumbai. Narendra Modi will attend the BJP national executive meeting, I have spoken to him. Sanjay Joshi resigned on his own to avoid any conflict in the prty, said Gadkari.
While party leaders tried to downplay the crisis, the executive continued under the shadow of the controversy.
We are not a family-run concern, these kind of issues in our party are resolved through dialogue and discussion. We have enough inner resilience in the party to overcome such issues, said the partys chief spokesprson Ravi Shankar Prasad.
The resonance of the controversy shadowed Gadkaris speech as well, and he spoke of party leaders and workers prizing the party andsense of team spirit over individual goals.
The party is expected to endorse a second term for Gadkari as president, but it has come at a huge price for the party, with Modi asserting that he can bend the party to his will.
On the question of the upcoming presidential polls in July, Prasad said that for the Congress, the chief eligibility in anyone for any post is loyalty to the family. That is not so for us. The president of India is the highest post in the country, and we will be speaking to all non-Congress parties for the same.
He appeared non-committal on the question of backing former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma. We respect the Tamil Nadu and Orissa chief ministers J Jayalalithaa and Naveen Patnaik, but we need to hold a meeting of the NDA to decide on the matter, he said.
The executive is expected to adopt an agricultural, economic and political resolution over the course of two days, but, as always, the squabbling within the party has gained centrestage.
The BJP may try and find virtue in the squabbles, calling it inner party democracy, but to make news for the wrong reasons when the Central government is on the backfoot on so many issues, is a worry.