The internal tussle in the BJP over continuation of Nitin Gadkari as party president resurfaced Tuesday, two days before the winter session of parliament, with party MP Yashwant Sinha demanding that he step down. The BJP disapproved of Sinha's move and asked him to reconsider his remarks.
BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters after a meeting of National Democratic Alliance leaders that Sinha's remarks were "inappropriate".
Prasad said the party had taken notice of the reports in the media about the comments.
"He is a very senior leader of the party. He has given a public statement today. Being a senior leader, all party forums were available to him. Instead, he chose to go public. The party did not deem it appropriate. We urge him to reconsider his remarks," Prasad said.
Sinha told a news agency Tuesday that the issue was not whether Gadkari was guilty but that all party leaders should be above reproach.
The renewed demand for Gadkari's removal shifted focus on internal rumblings of BJP when the party was planning to target the UPA government on its decisions for FDI in multi-brand retail, price rise and corruption.
It came on the eve of BJP's planned nationwide shutdown against policies of the UPA government and at a time the party is campaigning for the Gujarat polls.
Gadkari is slated to take part in the protest both in Delhi and Arunachal Pradesh.
Though the party sought to contain the damage by asking Sinha to reconsider his remarks, the fresh row is likely to provide ammunition to the Congress to shift focus on the BJP on the issue of corruption during the session beginning Nov 22.
Sinha's remarks came after determined efforts by the BJP to end internal tensions and scotch speculations about Gadkari not getting a clean chit from the party over financial dealings of the Purti group he is linked to.
Financial analyst S. Gurumurthy, who had briefed the BJP core group Nov 6 about his probe into the financial dealings of Purti, had last week reiterated that there was no moral or legal wrongdoing by Gadkari.
Gurumurthy, a chartered accountant considered close to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), wrote a letter to Gadkari that he wished to formally place on record his views -- earlier expressed at the party's core committee meeting here Nov 6 -- which had led the party giving a virtual clean chit to its chief.
Gurumurthy wrote that he found no wrongdoing by Gadkari in documents related to Purti and accused the media of giving a political colour to the issue following some of his tweets.
The rift in the Sangh Parivar over allegations against Gadkari has been resurfacing over th past month.
Party MP Ram Jethmalani had demanded that Gadkari should resign and not seek a second term as party president.
His son Mahesh Jethmalani had resigned from the party's national executive on the issue.
Party leader Uma Bharti had sought to snub Ram Jethmalani over his remarks but Jagadish Shettigar, a member of party's national executive, also suggested that Gadkari should resign.
RSS ideologue M.G. Vaidya had indicated that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was behind Gadkari's troubles, but both the BJP and RSS denied any linkage.
Gadkari had taken over as BJP president in Dec 2009.
He is facing probe over financial dealings of investor companies in Purti group.