Nitin Gadkari, who takes pride in calling himself "a RSS swayamsevak to the core", was on Tuesday formally elected unopposed as the ninth president of the Bhartiya Janata Party to lead it for the next 3 years, six weeks after he took over the reigns from Rajnath Singh as the acting president.
Veteran party leader Lal Krishna Advani, who was present with a score of senior leaders in the party headquarters to greet Gadkari, said the party will grow from strength to strength under the leadership of Nagpur-born Gadkari.
Gadkari, who turns 53 in three months, is the youngest president of the 30-year-old party that has been always led by those from RSS with Atal Bihari Vajpayee being the only exception.
Earlier, the youngest party president was M Venkaiah Naidu, who took over on his 53rd birthday on July 1, 2002. Outgoing president, Rajnath Singh was 54 when he took over in December 2005.
No nomination from Maharashtra
Eighteen sets of nomination papers were filed for Gadkari from 13 states as also one from the BJP parliamentary party that is counted as a state for organisational poll purposes, but there was none from his own state. This is because organisational elections are yet to be completed in Maharashtra.
Only those states where organisational elections have been completed up to the level of the new state president were allowed to take part in the election. Though elections are completed in 19 states, nominations came from only 13 states.
Chief Returning Officer Thawar Chand Gehlot, who is also a general secretary in the outgoing central team, declared Gadkari elected unopposed as there were no other nominations.
As an elected president, Gadkari is now entitled to announce his new team, but he is inclined to hold back nominations to the central posts as office-bearers as also that of heads of various party morchas until the party's national council meeting in Indore next week where his election will be further ratified. The party president also nominates the national executive members.
He was nominated as the party president in the last week of December by the BJP parliamentary board, pending his formal election, which was delayed so far since the party constitution requires completion of elections in 50 per cent states before the national president can be elected.
RSS Wish List
With Gadkari's election, the RSS wish of the seniors giving the reigns to the GenNext stands fulfilled completely as Sushma Swaraj at 58 and Arun Jaitley at 57 have already taken over as the leaders of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively. The posts entail perks of a cabinet minister.
Sushma Swaraj's elevation came just days ahead of Gadkari's coronation in December when veteran Advani, 82, stepped down and the BJP parliamentary party made him its chairman by amending the constitution to continue to get guidance from him.
The election process that was gone through at the party headquarters with a fanfare was just a charade as the RSS-propped up Gadkari is already running the show. The party went through the process as mandated in its constitution as it has to also satisfy the Election Commission that it has gone through a proper organisational election to
qualify to continue as a recognised political party.