Ram Jethmalani is holding a press conference to clarify his stand in the Nitin Gadkari row. Here are highlights of what he said.
- In the interests of the party, the nation and the interests of Mr Gadkari himself, he should resign. He should be out of office while probe is on
- Resignation is not a confession of guilt
- Jaswant Singh, Yaswant Sinha and Satrughan Sinha are with me on Gadkari's resignation
- While I was in England, I was approached by Mr Gurumurthy who asked me not to make further statements
- I wanted to meet Gadkari many times, but couldn't. I thought he would meet me on my return from London
- If I resign from the party now, it will be a betrayal of the nation. The nation needs an opposition
- I will be happy to be expelled for making the demand openly
- On one side, I have Mr Gadkari who is comparing Vivekananda to Dawood and on the other side, a man who is the PM of India and doesn't know the difference between FDI and Kargil. I have to decide who will be worse.
- Narendra Modi is my choice for most suitable prime minister and party president, but I don't think he has the time to do so.
Stepping up further pressure, Ram Jethmalani on Tuesday demanded the immediate resignation of BJP President Nitin Gadkari and claimed three other senior leaders including Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha were with him on the issue.
"I am in touch with Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha (all Lok Sabha members). We seem to be on the same wave length. I don't presume to predict how they will (act). We are clearly of the opinion that resignation of the party president is imminently called for," he told reporters
He said he had written to Gadkari and LK Advani on his and on behalf of other three leaders but refused to divulge the contents.
Jethmalani, who first demanded Gadkari's resignation last month, said Gadkari should not be given another term as president since it would harm the party in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The recent BJP national council meeting had amended the party's constitution to enable Gadkari get a second term.
His son Mahesh, who is also an eminent lawyer, yesterday quit BJP national executive, saying he cannot be associated with it as long as Gadkari remains the party president.
Jethmalani said there was churning going on in the RSS on the Gadkari issue and felt that the Sangh founthead has not backed him on the issue.
To a question on the statement by some in BJP that he should not have gone public with his demands, he said he had tried to discuss it internally but nobody in the party had called him for any discussion.
Gadkari has been under attack from various quarters after media expose of the alleged dubious funding of a company run by him. He has refused to quit maintaining that he has offered himself for any probe on the issue.
Jethmalani said even when he made the demand for Gadkari's resignation from London last month, he thought the party President would consider it and call him and discuss it.
He said Gadkari did not call him. In fact RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy called him and requested him not to make further statements on the issue.
Jethmalani said he has been trying to talk about the issue with the party leaders internally.
Asked if he was ready for any disciplinary action by the party, he said he would be happy to be expelled for making public this demand but said he would not quit the organisation nor Parliament.
Queried who should replace Gadkari as party president, he said as per BJP constitution the senior most vice-president should take over.
Reiterating his view that Narendra Modi would be the best prime-ministerial candidate of BJP, he said Modi does not have time for becoming party president.