By not showing up at the recently-held BJP national executive in Delhi, Modi challenged the organisational structure and gave a handle to the Sangh and the BJP brass to rein him in. Following Modi's clear exhibition of contempt for the party hierarchy, the RSS, with generous help from most gennext leaders in the BJP, is engaged in the task of projecting Gadkari as a serious contender for being the party's prime ministerial candidate.
Gadkari is to complete his tenure by the end of 2012 which is when Narendra Modi is expected to make a serious bid to come centrestage by claiming his rightful place in the BJP president's office.
"To prevent Modi from making the bid for the BJP president's post, informal discussions have already started in the party and RSS circles to amend the BJP's constitution to extend the party president's tenure from three to five years," sources in the BJP said.
Besides, Gadkari is also said to be preparing for contesting the next parliamentary elections from his home ground - Nagpur.
In this venture, there is surprising unity among the BJP leaders - Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh et al. The fact is that Gadkari is seething after Modi's public snub by way of refusal to attend the national executive meeting. This is the kind of blunder that changed the course of the careers of Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh, both Hindutva icons like Modi.
"In the BJP, there is one mistake that you never make - challenge the organisation publicly. Uma did that by targeting Advaniji. She could never recover from the consequences that followed. Similarly, Kalyan Singh challenged the leadership and Atal Behari Vajpayee and paid a price for it. They too were mass leaders like Modi," said a BJP source.
And no one else in the BJP will mind adding fuel to the fire that Modi himself started. Gadkari is believed to be angry enough and others perceptive enough to see this is a perfect opportunity to play up the feud between the BJP president and the Gujarat CM. "The fact is that Modi is a serious contender for the top slot. But having him as BJP president reduces all others to secondraters. Gadkari is a safe bet that can be dealt with later. So, the idea is to throw in your lot behind Gadkari and contain Modi," BJP sources said.
The latest instance of Gadkari's projection at the national level is a grand function at Delhi's Siri Fort auditorium to launch a collection of his speech in a book titled Vikas Ke Path (The Roads to Development) on Saturday. The book, has been published by Prabhat Prakashan and the launch function will witness Sangh stalwart Suresh Soni delivering an address along with L. K. Advani.
The RSS is doing its best to advertise the event and Gadkari.
A community website hosted by the RSS, www.sanghparivar.org , announced the "grand" event while describing the BJP president as a "visionary". "Nitin Gadkari's performance as cabinet minister for Public Works Department of Maharashtra and the founder-chairman of Maharashtra state road development corporation, during 1995-99 gave him peoples' appreciation with a new name, 'Roadkari' (one who knows the importance of transport and has built roads). He is a combination of a politician, an entrepreneur with a social outlook and visionary who believes in better governance," the RSS tribute in the book reads.
This clearly indicates that Gadkari is the current RSS favourite.