BW had earlier carried reports of Sushma Swaraj being among the frontrunners in the race for President Of India (click here).
However, sources say that Jadhav is RSS’s “first choice” as the next President. Till yesterday, it was believed that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was the frontrunner for the position. Swaraj, however, dismissed such speculations saying that “she continued to be the External Affairs Minister and that it was an internal matter of the party”.
A public intellectual, and noted economist, Jadhav, a Dalit, is also known as a free market votary. While Jadhav acknowledges former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh as his mentor, his comfort level with the BJP-RSS in the past few years has increased tremendously.
Jadhav has attended RSS functions as a chief guest. In one such event, attended by RSS general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi, where Jadhav’s latest book on B R Ambedkar was released, it was stressed that Ambedkar couldn’t be reduced to a “Dalit leader” – something that fits in neatly into the RSS / BJP narrative.
Then, the Modi government nominated him to the Rajya Sabha last year. In a recent interview with BW Businessworld, Jadhav had expressed concern at the lack of interest in SC sub plans in successive governments. Jadhav also talked about doing away with caste surnames to usher an egalitarian social order.
When BW Businessworld asked Jadhav today if had been sounded out for the top job, he said he would not comment on the issue. But will the RSS choice make the cut with the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo? One will have to wait and watch.
The RSS, meanwhile, is believed to be batting for Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu for the Vice President’s position. It has earlier been also speculated that Naidu was in the running for one of the two top jobs.
Pragmatic politics demands that if the President is from the north, the Vice President should be from south. Naidu, part of the three-member team constituted by BJP president Amit Shah to consult with various parties to forge a consensus on a Presidential name, has, however, dismissed any such speculations.