The needle of suspicion in the campaign against BJP chief Nitin Gadkari points to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, RSS ideologue M.G. Vaidya Monday said, sparking swift denials from both the organisations.
While the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) distanced itself from Vaidya's remarks, Gadkari called his comments "unfounded" and insisted that there was total unity in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
"The BJP completely rejects such insinuation as it is totally unfounded. All central leaders and its chief ministers have been working cohesively and unitedly," Gadkari said in a statement here.
He also rejected Vaidya's attempt to link the anti-Gadkari comments by party MP Ram Jethmalani with Modi.
"The BJP is firmly and unitedly behind Modi and we are confident the party will win decisively in the ensuing (Gujarat) elections," he said.
Gadkari has been under attack for alleged financial impropriety in connection with his business groups.
Mahesh Jethmalani, another BJP MP and son of Ram Jethmalani, quit the party's national executive last week protesting Gadkari's continuation in office despite the allegations against him.
Vaidya, 87, a Nagpur-based former chief editor of Tarun Bharat, the RSS mouthpiece, said in his blog in Marathi that the roots of the campaign against Gadkari had to be in Gujarat.
Besides seeking Gadkari's resignation, Ram Jethmalani wanted Modi to be declared the party's prime ministerial candidate.
This could be because Modi apprehended that Gadkari could cause hindrance to his (Modi's) ambition to become the prime minister, said Vaidya.
"I do not think Modi has any chance of leading the BJP in the next election," he added.
"L.K. Advani and Gadkari have made it clear they are not in the race for prime minister. However, Modi, who seems to have strong prime ministerial ambitions, has said nothing on this issue," Vaidya pointed out.
Reacting to Vaidya's blog, RSS spokesman Ram Madhav said: "It is not the opinion of the Sangh."
Referring to Mahesh Jethmalani's exit from the national executive, Vaidya said that if Yashwant Sinha, Jaswant Singh and Shatrughan Sinha shared Ram Jethmalani's views, then should quit the BJP.
On who would be BJP's prime ministerial candidate, Vaidya said: "This is not the right time to decide. The party that gets the maximum MPs in 2014 would elect the next prime minister."
In Chennai, BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu hit out at Vaidya. "That is his idea, I don't know where he got the information (about Modi being involved). It is wrong..."