Criticising Gadkari, Mahesh Jethmalani quits BJP executive

Vinay Kumar
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Says it would be morally wrong for him to serve in BJP

Pressure seems to be mounting on BJP president Nitin Gadkari to step down from his post in the wake of allegations of financial impropriety, with senior lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani resigning from the party’s National Executive on Monday, saying it would be “morally wrong” for him to serve in the BJP as long as Mr. Gadkari remained as party chief.

The Oxford-educated lawyer, who is the son of eminent lawyer and BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP, Ram Jethmalani, has become the first national executive member to openly question Mr. Gadkari’s continuance as the party chief after corruption charges were levelled against him. Mr. Gadkari has been accused of financial impropriety as chairman of the Purti group.

In his brief letter to Mr. Gadkari, Mr. Mahesh Jethmalani said: “I deem it morally and intellectually inappropriate to continue to serve on the party’s National Executive committee as long as you are the president of the BJP. I hereby tender my resignation from the same.”’

He later told journalists that he took the decision due to corruption charges against Mr. Gadkari as well as his latest comments comparing the IQ of Dawood Ibrahim with that of Swami Vivekananda.

“I am no one to say if Mr. Gadkari should get a second term or not, but my personal view is he should not,” Mr. Jethmalani said.

While defending the party president, BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy criticised Mr. Jethmalani for his letter reaching the media “even before it reached the BJP.” “The BJP president has said whatever issues have been raised should be probed. Making such statements in public will damage the party’s image. If individuals start going to press, it is not in the best interest of the party,” Mr. Rudy said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gadkari found himself in the middle of another mess on his comments about Swami Vivekananda. In a speech at an award function in Bhopal on Sunday, Mr. Gadkari said: “In psychology, we measure the IQ level of people... But it depends from person to person, in what area they choose to use their intelligence.” “If we could compare the IQ level of Swami Vivekananda and that of Dawood Ibrahim, it could have been almost similar. But their direction in life is so different. While Vivekananda used it for nation-building, brotherhood and spiritualism, Dawood used it for destructive purpose, to excel in the crime world,” Mr. Gadkari was quoted as having said.

However, when questioned by journalists on Monday, Mr. Gadkari denied having made such a comparison. “I did not make any such comparison between Swami Vivekananda and Dawood Ibrahim. I said if one used one’s intelligence properly, one could become like Vivekananda, and vice versa. I am being misquoted.”

Reacting to the remark, the Congress said it demonstrated the party’s “level of thinking and mentality,” and demanded an apology.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said Mr. Gadkari’s remarks were “yet another manifestation of their [the BJP’s] culture and mentality.” He demanded that the BJP “apologise to the people of this country.”

  • Remarks on Vivekananda lands Gadkari in fresh controversy

  • Congress criticises remarks and seeks apology from Gadkari

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