Time to quit

Gadkaris explanations are un-convincing.

The demand for BJP president Nitin Gadkari’s resignation in the wake of the suspicious financial dealings is getting louder even within the party. It is known that many leaders of the party had misgivings about supporting a leader who faced serious charges of wrongdoing. If there was some public defence it was by default, because the internal power equations and clashing ambitions had made it difficult for them to find a replacement. That was also the reason, apart from the support Gadkari enjoyed from the RSS, why the party constitution was amended to give the incumbent another term. But it seems far from getting another term, completing the present term may become difficult for Gadkari, as the public scrutiny of the charges continues, without satisfactory answers coming from him.

Mahesh Jethmalani, a member of the national executive, has resigned after expressing public disapproval of Gadkari’s leadership. There are reports that some other senior leaders may also come out in the open demanding his resignation. Though Gadkari has denied all allegations, those involving his company, Purti Power and Sugar Ltd, are potentially damaging. There are charges that a company which was favoured by Gadkari when he was a minister in Maharashtra later made investments in his companies. Gadkari has not convincingly explained how a web of shell companies peopled by drivers, astrologers etc is doing business with his company, what funds flowed into them and how they were accounted for. Some of them have fictitious addresses and there is a strong  suspicion of round-tripping of funds and of money laundering. An investigation is on and  there may be unpleasant results for Gadkari. The argument that he is ready to face a probe does not mean he is free of wrongdoing. Outright denial or brazening out of charges will not make them to go away.

The most important plank of the BJP’s campaign against the scandal-ridden UPA is corruption and black money. It will be difficult for the party to attack the UPA government when its own leader is under a cloud and is facing the same charges. It cannot also claim that the charges are only politically motivated, because they have come from quarters other than the Congress and India Against Corruption. The party is actually in a cleft stick. Continuation of Gadkari in office will politically and morally weaken it. But his resignation will be a sign of acceptance of guilt. But most would agree that the second option is better.

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