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The BJP is sharply divided over the move to revoke Ram Jethmalani's suspension. Members of the parliamentary board, particularly Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, are strongly opposed to his reinstatement since they feel that he is a wild card who acts with impunity against party discipline. Jethmalani publicly termed both Swaraj and Jaitley Congress agents because he disagreed with their views on the appointment of the new CBI director. Last year Jethmalani had demanded Nitin Gadkari's resignation after disclosures about his business affairs, but the BJP president is now backing Jethmalani. Gadkari wants to buy peace with Advani, who is a well-wisher of Jethmalani. Advani has indicated that he may withdraw his opposition to Gadkari getting a second term as BJP president if Gadkari supports Jethmalani. Another powerful ally in the Jethmalani camp is Narendra Modi who had helped him secure his Rajya Sabha seat. Modi feels he may need the services of the eminent criminal lawyer at some point.
The timing of the eighth South Asia Free Media Association (Safma), an organisation aimed at promoting regional peace and open borders in the neighbourhood, was not very propitious. In the middle of the two-day conference, which started in Amritsar and ended in Lahore, there was a bitter confrontation between India and Pakistan over the beheading of an Indian soldier at the LoC. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, who was the chief guest at Amritsar, compared the members of Safma to the children of a feuding couple who were trying to bring about a rapprochement. In Amritsar, Khurshid was asked by the Pakistani media about the killing of a Pakistani soldier at the border. Khurshid said one should not allow a single incident to cloud the entire peace process. But when news broke of the barbaric killing of an Indian soldier two days later, he changed his tune.
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