Senior Union Minister Nitin Gadkari's remarks that a party president is responsible for the performance of his MPs and MLAs have set the tongues wagging as several see it as a veiled attack on BJP chief Amit Shah following the recent debacle in three Hindi heartland states.
Gadkari made the remarks during an interaction with civil servants here on Monday evening after delivering the annual Intelligence Bureau endowment lecture.
The latest comments came close on the heels of this remarks in Pune last week when he suggested that leadership should own up to defeat and failures" and that success has many fathers but failure is an orphan, comments which were seen as an attack on Narendra Modi-Amit Shah combine. He denied any such inference and said media was twisting his statement.
Replying to a question, Gadkari said on Monday, "if I am the party president, and my MLAs are not doing well, my MPs don't perform then I am responsible. What have I done to groom them."
In his speech, Gadkari also referred to country's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in laudatory terms, going against the remarks by the leadership. He said Nehru would say "every person should think that he is not a problem for the country, and I would also think so. Half the problems would be solved if each individual decided not to create them."
The BJP was defeated in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh Assembly elections where it was ruling and Gadkari's back-to-back remarks were seen as an attempt at targeting Shah, who is the party president. The Modi-Shah duopoly is accused of taking decisions on their own and not consulting senior leaders like Gadkari.
Gadkari, the Union Transport Minister and an MP from Nagpur, is said to be close to the RSS and is speculated by a section in the political circles to be one of the prominent Sangh choices for Prime Minister's chair in case BJP fall below 200 seats. Recently, a prominent Maharashtra farmer leader Kishore Tiwari wrote to the RSS demanding that the Sangh should replace Modi with Gadkari if the BJP wishes to win the Lok Sabha elections.