BJP backs Gadkari after ‘clean chit’, but cracks remain

FP

For the second time in less than two weeks, the top brass of the BJP backed beleaguered party president Nitin Gadkari Tuesday and said they had accepted an internal audit that cleared him of any wrongdoing in business, keeping alive his hopes of a second term in the post.

But this time, the vote of confidence was not unanimous as some influential leaders, including veteran L K Advani, did not appear to endorse Gadkari, who was also faced with fresh dissent.

Gadkari secured the backing of his party leaders at a meeting during which RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy presented an internal audit which cleared Gadkari of any "legal and moral wrongdoing" in the business dealings of a firm linked to him. Gadkari, however, was not present at the meeting as he was the subject of discussion.

"The meeting accepted the presentation of Shri Gurumurthy that there was no legal or moral wrongdoing by Nitin Gadkari," BJP deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, Ravi Shankar Prasad, said. The meeting was attended by members of the party's core group and general secretaries.

Based on Gurumurthy's findings, the party asserted that "Gadkari has no direct or indirect interest in the 18 investment companies which have invested in the Purti group". Party sources, however, said it now depends on Gadkari's ability to check the dissent against him to manage a second term as Tuesday's meeting cleared him of moral and political compulsions.

"When we express our party's trust on the issue of his integrity, he becomes eligible for a second term. When we have no problem today, how can we object tomorrow? After today's declaration he is not handicapped by this issue. He has been unshackled by the recent allegations and becomes free to bid for a second term as he was free before this controversy erupted," said a leader present at the meeting.

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