With the expose of huge irregularities in Nitin Gadkari promoted Purti Power and Sugar Ltd (PPSL), the BJP as the main opposition party continues to lose its steam as far as its stand on corruption is concerned that will jeopardize the stake of the party in public domain. During the tenure of the UPA II, especially for the last one and a half year, the BJP had not only succeeded in cornering the ruling dispensation at the Centre, but also bolstered its stance that the Congress had become synonymous with corruption. Owing to the corruption cases the Congress had to face string of electoral debacles. It is said that the party which is in power at the Centre failed to perform below expectations in the states like Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Goa, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh because of the charges of graft and its poor performance.

Irregularities and bungling of funds in organizing the Commonwealth Games and allegations of rigging norms in allocation of 2G spectrums and coal blocks to private firms marred the credibility of the Central government. The movements launched by Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev over the issue of corruption and black money also put the Congress-led Central government in dock. When Arvind Kejriwal announced to launch a new political outfit and raised finger towards the business activities of Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, it seemed that Kejriwal’s allegations will strengthen the position of the BJP. But when Team Kejriwal alleged that BJP chief Gadkari’s trust was allocated the land acquired by Maharashtra government from the farmers and media brought the spotlight on the alleged misappropriation in the Gadkari promoted Purti group, it spelt out a message that the main opposition party BJP is equally tainted as far as corruption is concerned. This notion cannot be deemed as baseless given the serious charges of corruption against former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa. It is palpable that all is not well in the functioning of administration in the BJP-ruled nine states, while there is no allegation on the BJP top brass leaders barring for BS Yeddyurappa.

According to the aides of Kejriwal, the additional land acquired from the farmers for building a dam should have been returned to them, but the land was allocated to Gadkari’s trust at the behest of the then Irrigation Minister of Maharashtra- Ajit Pawar. BJP and Gadkari replied to these allegations though, they failed to substantiate their propositions regarding untraceable investors of Purti Power and Sugar Ltd. They also failed to answer why the addresses of the investors were traced to slum colonies. Surprisingly, there are some people who don’t know that they are directors of PPSL. There are some companies which borrowed fund from Gadkari’s companies whereas some others lent money to PPSL. On the basis of these revelations, Gadkari promoted firm is charged of being involved in money laundering. Gadkari himself has come under scanner as during his stint as Maharashtra PWD Minister in Shiv Sena-BJP government, he allotted tenders to most of those companies which had lent money to his PPSL.

Serious allegations of corruption against Gadkari are highly embarrassing for the BJP because he is considered to be a choice of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for the party’s president post. He was elevated to the BJP president post only because of his proximity with the RSS, which was reflected when the BJP amended its constitution to assign him a second term as party chief. Gadkari is not only known for his frankness, but he also takes pride in appointing a grass-root party worker like him as its chief. He however dwells upon the assignments undertaken by his trusts in Vidarbha region, but the functioning of the same trusts is under scanner.

However senior BJP leaders threw their weight behind Gadkari, it seems to be difficult for both the party and its beleaguered chief to answer satisfactorily over the facts which are doing the rounds. Even Gadkari himself tried to make his position clear before RSS top brass but no avail. It is surprising that whenever the BJP leaders land in some kind of controversy or a bickering crops up inside the party, they turn to the RSS. This attitude of the party leaders puts a question mark on the capability of the BJP of taking any decision on its own.

All eyes are set on BJP’s next course of action regarding the allegations on its president Nitin Gadkari as the party has been prompt on seeking resignation of Union Ministers over corruption charges. Even Gadkari has rejected the demands of his resignation, but his chances of being appointed as the party chief for the second term has been jeopardized after the allegations being leveled against him. In a bid to dispel the accusations which have been put against him by Kejriwal and a section of media, Gadkari says that the charges are aimed at tarnishing the image of his party. This argument cannot be acceptable as the image of a party is made or destroyed on the basis of acts of its leaders. Gadkari should not use his party as a shield against charges against him because the allegations are concerned with his personal business activities. The allegations against Gadkari do not prove that irregularities in his firm, Purti Group, were meant to raise the party fund.

It is to be noted that the facts and figures brought out by Kejriwal about misappropriation in Gadkari promoted firm have also been corroborated by a section of media. Even common people are also highly interested to know about facts regarding charges of corruption against BJP chief and his business activities. Kerjiwal’s strategy to put spotlight on corruption has sparked a kind of fear among all the political parties. They fear that next target of Team Kejriwal could be any of them. Whatever action Congress takes on charges of corruption against its leaders Virbhadra Singh and Salman Khurshid and also against Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra is a different case, but it is highly essential for the BJP to remain impartial over charges against Gadkari to maintain a good image among people. The party is also required to ensure an impartial probe into this matter. If Gadkari is found spotless, it will undoubtedly help the party make a strong position in the national politics. In the current scenario, it will be better for Gadkari to resign on moral ground.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on October 28, 2012 translated by the English Editorial. The author is Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)