The BJP on Monday served a formal notice to Ram Jethmalani, MP, asking him to explain why he should not be expelled from the party for his “anti-party” activities and indiscipline.

The Parliamentary Board which met here endorsed the suspension of Mr. Jethmalani by party president Nitin Gadkari and chose to serve a formal show-cause notice.

Mr. Jethmalani, a strident critic of the BJP president, has been in the forefront of a campaign by a section within the party demanding the resignation of Mr. Gadkari on the ground that his position had become untenable after charges of irregularities in a firm owned by him.

The latest provocation by Mr. Jethmalani questioning the rationale of senior leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley criticising the appointment of the new CBI chief by the UPA government, gave the opportunity to the leadership to strike at the maverick MP.

Ever since anti-corruption activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal trained his guns on Mr. Gadkari last month, some party seniors have mounted pressure for him to go.

Senior RSS leader M.G. Vaidya had suggested that Mr. Jethmalani — who has been batting for the appointment of Narendra Modi as party chief — could be acting at the behest of the Gujarat Chief Minister.

Warning to detractors

Mr. Jethmalani’s suspension was meant to send a message to Mr. Gadkari’s detractors that the party chief is still in command and would not give in to the demand for his ouster.

However, the episode is not expected to end as the purported irregularities in the Purti Group continue to haunt Mr. Gadkari. Last week, there were new revelations in a section of the media that family members of the BJP chief were directors in the company at some point of time.

The coming days are crucial for Mr. Gadkari as his term as party chief would come to an end in the last week of December and he is keen on a second term.

The BJP chief has survived pressures from within and outside for his resignation, thanks to the strong support of the RSS.

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