The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Monday asked its Rajya Sabha member Ram Jethmalani, already suspended for "indiscipline and anti-party activities", to explain why he should not be expelled from the party for six years.
"The parliamentary board discussed the anti-party actions of Mr. Ram Jethmalani. The parliamentary party found appropriate the decision of party president Nitin Gadkari to suspend Jethmalani for his indiscipline and anti-party activities," BJP leader Ananth Kumar told reporters after a meeting of the party's parliamentary board.
"We have also sent him a show cause notice to tell why he should not be expelled from the party for six years," he said.
Answering queries, Ananth Kumar said the issue of the statements made by the BJP's Lok Sabha members Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha against Gadkari did not come up for discussion in the meeting.
Asked why Jethmalani was not expelled and a show cause notice issued to him, Ananth Kumar did not give a direct reply.
He said Ram Jethmalani was suspended by Gadkari and the issue was refererd to the parliamentary board for deliberation.
Party sources said a reason for Jethmalani being given time to explain his statements could be his role in handling matters of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi concerning the 2002 riots.
Jethmalani, who was the first leader to publicly seek Gadkari's resignation for the controversy related to alleged financial wrongdoings of a company linked to him, Saturday took potshots at party leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley over their letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking appointment of new director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) through a collegium.
Jethmalani, a Rajya Sabha member and an eminent lawyer, has written letters to Gadkari and party leader L.K. Advani over the past few weeks stoking controversies. He wrote another letter to Gadkari Monday but did not disclose the contents.
Party leaders Yashwant Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha and party national executive member Jagdish Shettigar besides Ram Jethmalani's son Mahesh have also sought Gadkari's resignation.
Gadkari, who became BJP president in Dec 2009, is facing probe over alleged financial wrongdoings of investor companies in Purti Group, linked to him.
Hours before he was suspended Sunday, Jethmalani appeared defiant.
"If action is taken against me, I would welcome it. But I don't think anyone has the guts to suspend me," he said.
Party sources said that the action against Jethmalani was a veiled message to other leaders who have spoken against the party's line on continuing Gadkari as the party president for the second consecutive term.
Apart from his vocal demand for Gadkari's resignation, the party was upset at Jethmalani going against the party line on the process of appointment of the CBI director.
BJP sources said the party is yet to take a final view on its prime ministerial candidate and Jethmalani's "defiance" could have undermined position of leaders considered contenders for the post.
They, however, said that questions have emerged over Gadkari getting a second term and the party has not taken a final view on the issue.