Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had his way on Thursday when his bete noire Sanjay Joshi was forced to resign from the Bharatiya Janata Party's National Executive. Modi then decided to attend the two-day meeting which he had earlier planned to boycott.
Party chief Nitin Gadkari, who had brought Joshi back into the executive, announced the end of a "small controversy" and declared that he and the Gujarat strongman will work together to strengthen the party, setting the stage for deliberations in the executive.
Modi announced in Udaipur that he will go to Mumbai in the afternoon for the meeting of the executive, which will pave the way for giving another term to Gadkari as the party president.
Gadkari said with the end of this row, he and Modi will work "shoulder to shoulder" to strengthen the organisation in the changed political scenario.
The BJP chief also praised Joshi for showing a "large heart" in resigning from the executive in the interest of the organisation to "end" any controversy.
"Joshi has in a letter to me has said that he is resigning in the interest of the party," the BJP president said, projecting a picture of unity in the organisation at a time when it is planning a major agitation against the United Progressive Alliance government over the petrol price hike.
There were apprehensions that the absence of Modi could cast a shadow over the meet which is expected to pave the way for a second three-year term for Gadkari as BJP chief.
The conclave is the first major gathering of the party top brass ahead of assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the two party-ruled states, scheduled by year end.
Modi had not attended the last meeting of the National Executive held in Delhi in September, apparently peeved over the induction of Joshi in the Uttar Pradesh election campaign by Gadkari. He had also not campaigned before the UP polls.
The talk in BJP circles is that Modi had threatened to resign from the National Executive if Joshi is retained in the body, where he is an invitee member.
Gadkari did not want to give any handle for Modi to stay away from the Mumbai meet, which is expected to pass a resolution seeking a change in the BJP constitution, giving a consecutive three-year term to the party chief.
Gadkari and Modi have not been on the best of terms in recent times and the party chief had in an interview conceded that they have little interaction .
After a gap of six years, Joshi, who has been a former party general secretary, had been asked by Gadkari to assist the party in UP assembly polls. This decision had not gone down well with Modi.
Modi had all these years stiffly resisted moves to bring back Joshi.
Mumbai has proved unlucky for Joshi for the second time.
In 2005, Joshi was forced to resign following a controversy over a CD purportedly showing him in poor light. The CD surfaced during the silver jubilee celebrations of the party in the megapolis.
Joshi was at that time a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pracharak nominee in the party and held the powerful position of general secretary.