Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha has resurrected his demand for the resignation of party president Nitin Gadkari. Mr Sinha had earlier allied with party MP in Rajya Sabha Ram Jethmalani in making the same demand. "Whether Gadkari is guilty or not is not the issue. Those in public life should be beyond reproach," Mr Sinha said on Tuesday in a press release.
The revival of this demand may have come at an inappropriate time when the party plans to corner the government on various issues, including alleged scams, in the winter session of Parliament beginning Thursday. The BJP will also hold a nation-wide rally today against the corruption charges that the Congress is facing.
The earlier call for Mr Gadkari to resign was made in a letter to him, signed by Mr Jethmalani. The BJP found it easier to dodge that, since it could dismiss Mr Jethmalani as a peripheral player in the party. It will find it much more difficult to do that with Mr Sinha, who said he was issuing his statement for Mr Gadkari's resignation with a "great deal of sadness and regret and after exhausting the forums available" for him in the party.
"I am confident that the issue I am raising has merit and I have faith in the wisdom of the party to be able to deal with this issue. In fact, it is this faith which kept me from issuing this statement earlier. Unfortunately, despite my best effort the party has been unable to take a decision in the matter," he said.
The BJP, disapproving the remarks of Mr Sinha, said he should reconsider his statement. "He is a very senior leader of the party. He has given a public statement today. Being a senior leader, all party forums were available to him. Instead, he chose to go public. The party did not deem it appropriate. We urge him to reconsider his remarks," party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Tuesday.
Mr Gadkari has been facing allegations of corruption exposed by NDTV earlier and had split the party down the middle over his continuation as president. He has survived so far thanks to the conditional support of the BJP's ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS, which had chosen him to be president in the first place. RSS ideologue and chartered accountant S Gurumurthy had also given Mr Gadkari a clean chit, having gone through the balance sheets and accounts of the latter's Purti Group, which is at the centre of the corruption allegations.
There was also talk about Mr Gadkari being targetted by supporters of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who some party insiders say, wants to take over after the state election in December, which he is widely expected to sweep.
The demands for his resignation, overt and covert, have in any case virtually shut out chances of Mr Gadkari getting a second term as president, which was made possible after the BJP amended its constitution.