Divided BJP struggled to emerge as alternative to Congress

Narendra Modi

A government hit by a series of scams and charge of indecisiveness, public outrage over corruption and crimes against women - there could not have been a more opportune moment for the BJP to capitalise on, yet 2012 saw the party in disarray with infighting at the top.

The year, however, saw Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi emerging as a big hope for the BJP after his third straight win in the Assembly elections. Though there are murmurs within the party that choosing him as the Prime Ministerial candidate would polarise votes and shoo away prospective allies due to his Hindu hardliner image, even his detractors grudgingly concede that he is set to move to the national stage and is the party's best bet.

But BJP's fight against corruption - the principal Opposition's main plank on which it attacked the Congress-led UPA - was dented when its chief Nitin Gadkari faced a barrage of graft charges. There are allegations that his Purti Group has dubious funding.

The situation became more embarrassing for the party when some of its own senior members demanded that Gadkari step down immediately and wait till he is cleared of the charges.

Yashwant Sinha, Ram Jethmalani, his son and party leader Mahesh, and Shatrughan Sinha came out openly against Gadkari.

Other charges against him included allocation of coal blocks to his close associate Ajay Sancheti in Chhattisgarh and grabbing land of farmers in Nagpur for his Purti Sugar and Power Limited.

The timing of the allegations is crucial as Gadkari is preparing for a second term. His present terms expires this month. RSS is keen that he should lead the party during the next general elections due in 2014.

At the Sangh founthead's behest, the BJP constitution was amended to allow two consecutive terms to the party president so that Gadkari could continue in the top seat till 2015. He is still likely to be re-elected as RSS continues to back him for the post.

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