The BJP has suspended from the party its leader Ram Jethmalani, who earlier demanded party chief Nitin Gadkari's removal and spoke against the party's line on the appointment of a new CBI chief, sources said Sunday.
"The party chief has suspended Ram Jethmalani with immediate effect. The process of his suspension has been referred to the party's parliamentary board," BJP spokesman Syed Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters.
Hours before the announcement, a belligerent Jethmalani, 89, a Rajya Sabha member, said no one had the guts to suspend him.
"If action is taken against me, I would welcome it. But I don't think anyone has the guts to suspend me," Jethmalani told reporters.
Party sources said rule 25 of the BJP's constitution empowered the party president to suspend from the organisation any member with immediate effect.
But since Jethmalani is an MP, the matter has been referred to BJP's parliamentary board which is expected to meet Monday evening, said the sources.
Jethmalani had ruffled many feathers in the party by demanding the removal of Gadkari from the post of party chief after corruption allegations surfaced against him and a company he is linked to.
He embarrassed the BJP Saturday by contradicting the party's stand on the issue of appointment of Ranjit Sinha as the new Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director.
Leaders of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley had Nov 23 written a joint letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying the decision on appointing Sinha as the next CBI chief should be kept on hold till the collegium system became a law, as recommended by the Rajya Sabha select committee on Lokpal.
The prime minister had rejected their plea and justified the appointment.
BJP MPs Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha have also justified Ranjit Sinha's appointment, embarrassing the party further.
Recently, Yashwant Sinha had also sought removal of Gadkari from the post of party chief.