Bowing to the wishes of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday amended its constitution enabling the party president, state and district unit chiefs to get a second term, which paves the way for Nitin Gadkari to seek another term for the top post after he completes his present tenure in December.
Senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh moved the resolution to amend Article 21 of the party constitution and the proposal was seconded by M Venkaiah Naidu. The National Council approved the resolution unanimously.
The amendment, which was passed by the BJP National Executive in Mumbai in May, states that any eligible active member can hold the post of president for three years for two terms.
This clears all hurdles for Gadkari to get a second term later this year. The BJP President, who was propped up by RSS after the party's dismal performance and second consecutive Lok Sabha defeat in 2009, has arguably improved the party's prospects and style of functioning.
Sources said RSS wanted Gadkari to continue for another three-year term as it felt the work of overhauling the BJP begun by him is not yet complete.
Naidu clarified during the passing of the amendment that this is an "enabling provision" and the incumbent does not "automatically" get a second term. Though this caused a minor flutter, he made the clarification to make it clear to the state unit and district unit chiefs that they should not carry the impression that they are getting another term.
"If the voters of the constituency of that unit of the mandal or district or state or central committee feel there is reason to give another term, they can re-elect the person. This is only an enabling provision," Naidu said.
This amendment has ostensibly been made to give Gadkari another term.
A message has already been sent across to the party cadre to complete the district and state unit-level elections of the BJP by October 31. Gadkari wants his election for another term to be completed before the Gujarat elections are held in December.
Many feel once the assembly polls in Gujarat are over, Chief Minister Narendra Modi may try to make forays into national politics.
This amendment also means that Gadkari will in all likelihood lead the BJP in the next general elections due in 2014. His second term as president will begin in January 2013 and continue till December 2015.
Under Gadkari's leadership, the BJP has performed well in the assembly elections held in Goa, Bihar, and Punjab. But in Bihar and Punjab it rode on National Democratic Alliance allies Janata Dal-United and the Shiromani Akali Dal respectively.
However, the party failed to impress the voter in Uttar Pradesh and its tally went down earlier this year. It also lost power in Uttarakhand.
BJP has also faced criticism due to the infighting and corruption in the party-led Karnataka government.
The party also drew flak for shifting its stand in the Rajya Sabha elections in Jharkhand.