BJP leader quits citing Gadkari taint

FP

In more trouble for Nitin Gadkari, BJP national executive member Mahesh Jethmalani resigned from the body on Monday saying he couldn't serve there as long as Gadkari remained the party president.

The development, coming on top of allegations of wrongdoing in business enterprises linked to Gadkari, as well as mounting attacks on him from other parties, further clouds the possibility of a second term as party chief for him.

"I do not deem it morally and intellectually appropriate to continue to serve on the party's national executive as long as you are the president," Jethmalani said in his resignation letter to Gadkari.

Jethmalani told reporters his "personal conscience was not satisfied" by Gadkari's defence regarding the charges against his businesses, adding that he would continue to serve the party.

Playing down the impact of Jethmalani's resignation, the BJP expressed its disapproval at him for making his views public. Party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy stressed that there was no pressure on Gadkari to resign. "There is no question of any pressure," he said.

The BJP president, however, was caught in yet another controversy on Monday over his remarks in Bhopal which were seen to compare the intelligence of Swami Vivekananda and wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim.

"As per psychology, if we can compare the IQ level of Swami Vivekananda and that of Dawood Ibrahim, then it could have been the same. But Vivekananda used it in nation building, brotherhood and spiritualism while Dawood used that in excelling in crime world," Gadkari was reported to have said.

The remarks attracted instant criticism from the Congress. "How can anyone compare one of India's foremost thought leaders with a criminal or with somebody who has clearly dubious and notorious records?" Minister for Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari said, seeking an apology from the BJP president.

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