New Delhi: Upping the pressure on BJP president Nitin Gadkari, the party's Rajya Sabha MP and eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani said that it wasn't just him but also senior leaders like Yashwant Sinha and Jaswant Singh want Mr Gadkari to step down.
"I have been in touch with Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha who seemed to be on the same wavelength. Of course, I don't presume to know what they will say or how they will act today or tomorrow," he said at a press conference in Delhi today. Mr Jethmalani said he and the three other leaders had written to senior leader LK Advani.
In his letter Mr Jethmalani wrote, "I am sorry to have to write this to you. I am doing it according to a firm conclusion arrived at by Jaswant, Yashwant, Shatrughan and myself. We are of the opinion that the continued Presidentship of the party by Mr Gadkari is a disaster for the nation and the BJP."
The BJP president is battling allegations of illegal business deals and money laundering. Yesterday, Mr Jethmalani's son, Mahesh, quit the national executive, questioning Mr Gadkari's continuance as president. (Read: Mahesh Jethmalani quits BJP national executive)
Significantly, both Mr Sinha and Mr Singh too have rebelled against the party leadership in the past couple of years over different issues. Mr Singh was even expelled from the party before being re-admitted. "I hope they will also take the same step. We are unanimous in our views and I have no doubt about it. They have not expressed them publicly and I hope they will express soon," the Rajya Sabha MP said.
Though the BJP has dismissed the Jethamalanis' outburst against Mr Gadkari, possibly counting on the fact that they are not considered grassroots politicians, both are considered visible and public faces of the party. Sources also say that the father-son duo is being used as a front by feuding party leaders to attack Mr Gadkari and further their charges for a shot at the top job. (Read: In Gadkari crisis, BJP A-listers see a shot at power for themselves)
Mr Jethmalani said he fully backed his son Mahesh's decision after Mr Gadkari compared Swami Vivekananda's IQ to that of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. "I fully approve of the action of my son after this Vivekananda episode. I think we don't need to be associated with the party which he (Gadkari) is leading... nothing against him personally," said Mr Jethmalani.
"Moreover, philosophy of resigning corresponds to life of public servants who are government servants. If an inquiry is on against a public servant, usually he is suspended; and if cleared, he comes back with renewed honour and that is exactly how Gadkari should behave," he told reporters.
Mr Jethmalani explained that decided to go public with his opinion, because RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy who had spoken to him London and asked him not to make any more statements about Mr Gadkari, was yet to meet him although it had been two weeks since he returned.
He also said that he had no intention of resigning from the party. "On the one hand you have this man who made an idiotic comment about Swami Vivekananda and a gangster and on the other hand, you have a future PM who is being forced on this country who can't tell the difference between FDI and Kargil. If I were to also leave the people will lose faith in the BJP," he said, adding, "I will be happy to be expelled from the party but someone has to pick up courage (to do that).
(with IANS inputs)