Go now, Yashwant tells his party chief Gadkari

BJP chief Nitin Gadkari came under fresh attack from within the party Tuesday over his alleged improper business deals. Senior leader Yashwant Sinha said he should quit the post even if he was not guilty.

"I do not care if Gadkari is clean or guilty, but he should quit," Sinha told reporters. "Whether Gadkari is guilty or not is not the issue... those in public life should be beyond reproach."

The party, however, was obviously upset with Sinha's comments. General secretary and chief spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said Sinha should not have made his stand public, and appealed to him to reconsider it. Asked if the party would take action against Sinha, disciplinary committee chairman Om Prakash Kohli said Sinha was a Member of Parliament, and therefore, any action against him could only be initiated by the party's parliamentary board.

Party sources said the RSS, at least for now, was in no mood to give up on Gadkari, handpicked by Sarsanghchalak Mohanrao Bhagwat for the top post. The Sangh is said to believe that the attack on Gadkari is actually aimed at Bhagwat.

Sinha said he was seeking Gadkari's resignation with a "great deal of sadness and regret and after exhausting the forums available" 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, according to him, had always set the highest standard of conduct in the past and should do so now as well. "We were a party with a difference earlier. We must continue to be a party with a difference even today and in future," the former union minister said.

He said he had been "greatly saddened" by the events over the last few weeks. "We have also deeply disappointed those who were looking towards us to fight the mindboggling corruption of the Congress party. Whether our party president is guilty or not is not the issue today. The issue is that all of us in public life should be beyond reproach. We have no right to let down the people of India...this is what we have done by taking the easy way out through a questionable method of self-certification," he said in an apparent reference to the clean chit given to Gadkari by RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy.

"I seek nothing for myself... I have nothing left to prove in my life...But I want that each member of the BJP should be able to hold his head high as we have always done...our credentials must not be questioned in this fight against corruption," Sinha said.

"I call upon Shri Nitin Gadkari, with all the humility at my command, to immediately step down from the post of party president. I would also like to put this question to the workers of the party and people at large. If I am wrong, please tell me so. If I am right, please support me in whatever way you can," he said.

Sinha said the highest standard of conduct set by leaders such as Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Atal Behari Vajpayee and L K Advani must be followed at all costs. "The nation is in peril, our democracy is threatened and our future is far from perfect. The BJP must rise to the occasion and save the country," he said.

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