Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday tweeted her support for underfire party president Nitin Gadkari, saying that she has always supported him and will continue to do so.
"The media reports that I am not supporting Shri Nitin Gadkari are absolutely false. I have always
supported him and I reiterate my support," Swaraj tweeted.
Earlier in the day, BJP national general secretary Vinay Katiyar played down noted criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani's remark that several senior leaders within the party are unhappy with the current state of affairs and want Nitin Gadkari to quit as the president amidst allegations against him.
Katiyar said there is no dissent within the BJP.
"There are no differences, we are united. Ram Jethmalani's statement has no value, there is no dissent in the party," he said.
BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman on her part said that she would comment on the issue only after the party takes a final call.
"I am not aware about what position the party is taking. I will comment on it only after the party takes a decision," she said in Surat.
Meanwhile, Nitin Gadkari reportedly met senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj for around an hour. He is also expected to meet BJP veteran Lal Krishna Advani later in the day.
Moreover, there are reports, which say that BJP leaders Ram Jethmalani, Yashwant Sinha and Jaswant Singh will be meeting later in the day to chalk out the future course of action.
BJP president Nitin Gadkari is seen in New Delhi. PTI
Stepping up further pressure, Ram Jethmalani demanded the immediate resignation of Gadkari and claimed three other senior leaders including Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha were with him on the issue.
"I am in touch with Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha (all Lok Sabha members). We seem to be on the same wave length. I don't presume to predict how they will... We are clearly of the opinion that resignation of the party President is imminently called for," he told reporters.
He said he had written to Gadkari and LK Advani on his and on behalf of other three leaders but refused to divulge the contents.
Jethmalani, who first demanded Gadkari's resignation last month, said Gadkari should not be given another term as President since it would harm the party in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The recent BJP national council meeting had amended the party's constitution to enable Gadkari get a second term.
His son Mahesh, who is also an eminent lawyer, on Monday quit BJP national executive, saying he cannot be associated with it as long as Gadkari remains the party President.
Jethmalani said there was churning going on in the RSS on the Gadkari issue and felt that the Sangh founthead has not backed him on the issue.
To a question on the statement by some in BJP that he should not have gone public with his demands, he said he had tried to discuss it internally but nobody in the party had called him for any discussion.
Gadkari has been under attack from various quarters after media expose of the alleged dubious funding of a company run by him. He has refused to quit maintaining that he has offered himself for any probe on the issue.
Jethmalani said even when he made the demand for Gadkari's resignation from London last month, he thought the party President would consider it and call him and discuss it.
He said Gadkari did not call him. In fact RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy called him and requested him not to make further statements on the issue.
Ram Jethmalani said he has been trying to talk about the issue with the party leaders internally.
Asked if he was ready for any disciplinary action by the party, he said he would be happy to be expelled for making public this demand but said he would not quit the organisation nor Parliament.
Queried who should replace Gadkari as party president, he said as per BJP constitution the senior most Vice President should take over.
Reiterating his view that Narendra Modi would be the best Prime Ministerial candidate of BJP, he said Modi does not have time for becoming party President.
The latest development in this regard comes a day after Ram Jethmalani's son Mahesh Jethmalani resigned from the party's national executive, saying he could not continue with Gadkari at the helm on moral grounds.
"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," said Mahesh Jethmalani.
Mahesh Jethmalani, who has written to Gadkari over corruption issue, further linked his resignation to the recent remarks of Gadkari drawing comparison between spiritual leader Swami Vivekanand and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, saying he was not satisfied with the BJP President's explanation on the issue.
"I am not convinced with the explanation... I would not want to continue as a member of council under his presidentship," he said.
© Copyright © 2013 HT Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.