BJP suspends Jethmalani

Action taken for going against party line on new CBI chief

BJP suspends Jethmalani

After debating for days on ways to deal with the attacks of Ram Jethmalani on party’s president Nitin Gadkari, the BJP suspended him on Sunday on an unrelated issue—his open defence of the government over the appointment of the new CBI chief which the Opposition party has questioned.

The action came within hours after the irrepressible Jethmalani dared the leadership to carry out its threat of disciplinary action against him, declaring: “No one has the guts to take action against me.”

One of the most wellknown lawyers in the country, Jethmalani has been targeting Gadkari over corruption charges, mainly in connection with questionable funding of the BJP chief’s Purti business house.

The move against Jethmalani comes within days after his son, Mahesh Jethmalani, quit the national council of the party after asking Gadkari to step down.

The senior Jethmalani has not been alone in his attack on Gadkari. Senior party leader Yashwant Sinha and high-profile MP Shatrughan Sinha, too, have been unequivocally critical of Gadkari and have asked for his resignation embarrassing the party to no end.

The BJP central leadership, which attacks the Congress which leads the UPA government as the source of corruption in the country, has not been able to stomach the attacks. Jethmalani’s defence of the UPA’s appointment of Ranjit Sinha as the next CBI chief was the last straw.

Addressing a press conference here, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said Jethmalani had opposed the letter written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by Sushma Swaraj, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, and Arun Jaitley, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, asking him to keep the CBI Director’s appointment in abeyance.

“BJP President Nitin Gadkari has viewed his remarks and today’s statement very seriously,” and decided to suspend him from the party with immediate effect, he said.
“Jethmalani's remarks are meant to help the Congress,” Hussain said. “It is an act of gross indiscipline.”

As Jethmalani is a Rajya Sabha MP, Gadkari has referred his decision sacking Jethmalani to party’s parliamentary board for ratification, spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters. The board is set to meet at 4.30 on Monday to ratify the action.

But, even if the decision is ratified and he is thrown out of the party, Jethmalani can continue as an independent MP in the Upper House.

Earlier in the day, at a book launch in Mumbai, Jethmalani told the media: “If there is any action taken against me, I will welcome it. But I don't think anyone has the guts to take any action against me.”

A day before, Jethmalani had said the government's decision on the CBI director appointment had "averted national calamity."

"I am sure there are more. I am 100 per cent sure that there are many more, many more but all don't have the capacity to speak the truth publicly and openly," he had replied when asked if more people in the party shared his views.

A series of statements had come from different leaders of the party and the RSS seeking Gadkari’s resignation but he continues to remain in office despite facing an income tax probe.

On Saturday, Shatrughan Sinha demanded that former finance minister Yashwant SInha’s statement should be taken up seriously. Jharkhand MP Yashwant Sinha, who was in the forefront of the attack on Gadkari, has been, however, silent for the past few days.

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