Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi [ Images ] and senior BJP leader Sanjay Joshi may not be seeing eye to eye now, but at one time they were friends and had in fact started their political careers together in Gujarat.
"They had a very good equation earlier, but things have come to such a pass that they cannot see eye to eye now," a source close to the Sangh Parivar and who worked with both the leaders said.
"Things have come to such a stage now that Modi feels threatened that if Joshi is allowed to be reinstated in the party, he could be one of the main hurdles to his national ambitions," the source said.
"So Modi showed such an adamant attitude for removal of Joshi, sending a clear message to party president Nitin Gadkari and those opposing him from inside the party," he further said.
Joshi today resigned ahead of the BJP's National Executive meeting in Mumbai [ Images ], a move seen as an effort by Gadkari to buy peace with Modi.
In 1990, Modi was general secretary of the state unit of BJP while Joshi was secretary and both worked together for about five years. It was a crucial phase for the state BJP, which came to power for the first time in the state with Keshubhai Patel as Chief Minister in 1995.
However in 1995, after a revolt by the then party leader Shankarsinh Vaghela, Modi was shunted out of the state and Joshi became general secretary (organisation) of BJP state unit.
"BJP was able to come back to power in Gujarat after a revolt by Shankarsinh Vaghela in 1998, when Modi was nowhere in the picture. We had won 117 seats in Gujarat out of 184 in 1995 and 121 in 1998 without Modi," another party source said.
The feud between the two began in 1998 when Modi wanted to return to the state but Joshi opposed the move, the source said.
"Keshubhai Patel once again became the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 1998. The rivalry grew from that year and it became more intense when Patel was unceremoniously removed as chief minister and replaced by Modi in 2001," he said.
But, the party then transferred Joshi to Delhi [ Images ] and gave him a powerful post of party general secretary (organisation).
In the next few years, Joshi's clout began to grow as a result of his position in the party.
However, in 2005, Joshi was forced to resign following controversy over a CD purportedly showing him in poor light.
The CD surfaced during the silver jubilee celebrations of the party in Mumbai.
An enquiry subsequently absolved Joshi, saying that the CD was doctored. The Joshi camp in the BJP pointed fingers at Modi's supporters for the incident.
Almost six years after the incident, Gadkari asked Joshi last year to assist the party in the Uttar Pradesh [ Images ] Assembly polls. The move infuriated Modi, who boycotted BJP's national executive in Delhi held in December last year and also did not campaign for the party in UP polls.
"Joshi is a silent worker with immense capability and is popular and loved by party workers. Modi, on the other hand, has a dictatorial attitude," Gordhan Zadafia, who has worked very closely with both Modi and Joshi, said.
"Modi had realised that the main person who will impede his national ambition will be Joshi as he knows inside out of him. That is the reason he is so opposed to Joshi," Zadafia, who left BJP and formed his own party Maha Gujarat Janta party in 2007, said.