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Axe on Jethmalani for dare comment

New Delhi, Nov. 25 (PTI): The BJP today suspended Ram Jethmalani with immediate effect for daring the party to act against him on the CBI chief’s appointment issue, saying it was gross indiscipline.

A defiant Jethmalani, an eminent lawyer and Rajya Sabha MP, who had recently demanded party chief Nitin Gadkari’s resignation in the wake of charges of alleged dubious funding of the latter’s Purti Group, said: “Nobody has the guts to take action against me.”

Jethmalani invited the BJP wrath after attacking the party for criticising the appointment of new CBI director Ranjit Sinha.

Addressing a news 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.

“Jethmalani’s remarks are meant to help the Congress,” Hussain said, adding that it was an act of “gross indiscipline”.

Hussain said Jethmalani opposing the Swaraj-Jaitley letter to the Prime Minister and his remarks today in Mumbai, that no action can be taken against him, has been viewed very seriously.

“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.

The BJP Parliamentary Board will meet here tomorrow at 4.30pm to take forward the suspension process since Jethmalani is a sitting MP.

In Mumbai, Jethmalani said many in the party shared his views, but “few had the capacity” to express their views openly. He, however, clarified that his views on Sinha’s appointment were his own and not that of the BJP, where “I am a small person.”

“If any action is taken against me, I will welcome it but I don’t think anyone has the guts to take any action against me,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a book launch written by a city-based journalist.

Yesterday, Jethmalani had attacked the party for criticising the appointment of the new CBI director and said the government’s decision has “averted national calamity”.

On if there were more people in the party having a similar stand, Jethmalani said: “I am sure there are more. I am 100 per cent sure that there are many, many more, but all don’t have the capacity to speak the truth publicly and openly.”

In Delhi, Congress spoke-sperson Rashid Alvi said Jethmalani’s suspension was an “internal matter of the BJP”.

Actor-turned MP from Patna Sahib, Shatrughan Sinha has joined Jethmalani and Yashwant Sinha in demanding Gadkari’s resignation, saying the issue raised by them should be looked into seriously.

“The issue raised by them (Jethmalani and Yashwant Sinha) should be looked into seriously,” Sinha had told reporters yesterday in Patna while replying to a question as to whether he agreed with the other two BJP leaders demand for Gadkari’s resignation.