Clearly, Gurumurthy is working hard at entrenching himself in the BJP framework. His protégé from the SJM days, Muralidhar Rao, is one of the general secretaries of the BJP and handles economic issues. He was also instrumental in organising Advani’s yatra against corruption in 2011 and is emerging as a key backroom person in the BJP. It is believed that Rao persuaded Gurumurthy to give Gadkari the “clean chit”.
However, Gurumurthy seems on tricky ground as his clean chit may have disappointed some of his other friends in the party. It certainly led to wires being crossed at the Vivekananda Kendra, a think-tank operating out of an impressive building in New Delhi’s Ramakrishna Puram area. The Vivekananda Kendra is a platform that had brought together many leading lights of the broad pro-BJP and anti-Congress space. Gurumurthy is believed to have incubated the group. Its honorary director is Ajit Doval, former Intelligence Bureau chief.
Others who are part of its ambit or have participated in its programmes include Ram Jethmalani, Subramanian Swamy, Govindacharya, R Vaidyanathan, professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, and Bhure Lal, former chief of the Enforcement Directorate. This forum has become a sort of mentor for India Against Corruption, it is believed.
On 1 April 2011, the Kendra hosted a convention on corruption at which Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Joginder Singh, former chief of the CBI, took part. At the end of the meeting, a two-page statement was issued that said Baba Ramdev had called for an “all-out war on corruption and that the front would announce immediate actionable programmes and reach out to like-minded anti-corruption organisations, institutions and individuals”. Within days, Anna Hazare had begun his fast. Two months later, Baba Ramdev was protesting at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan.
However, differences started cropping up when personal ambitions of some of those involved took centrestage. Govindacharya believes the anti-corruption movement has now become political. “There are too many political powers in the BJP now,” he said cryptically, when speaking to TEHELKA. On his part, Joginder Singh said he differed with the group because it did not “understand the system and there seemed to be some sort of motivated effort to make it political rather than letting it be an anti-corruption campaign”. When contacted to speak about the Gadkari issue, Doval said he would not want to get enmeshed in political games and would come out in the media at the right time with the right answers.