New Delhi: Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Tuesday demanded the resignation of party president Nitin Gadkari. "Whether our party president is guilty or not is not the issue today. The issue is that all of us in public life should be beyond reproach," he said.

Sinha's demand brings alive once again the campaign initiated by BJP Rajya Sabha MP Ram Jethmalani and his son Mahesh for the party chief's  resignation in the wake of reports of alleged dubious financing of Purti Sugar and Power Group. The campaign against Gadkari had appeared to take a backseat after the party backed him in the wake of a clear chit given by auditor S Gurumurthy, who had gone into the balance sheet and accounts of the Purti group.

But its revival may have come at an inappropriate time when the party plans to corner the government on various issues, including alleged scams, in the Winter Session of the Parliament beginning on Thursday. Sinha said he was issuing his statement for Gadkari's resignation with a "great deal of sadness and regret and after exhausting the forums available" for him in the party.

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"I am confident that the issue I am raising has merit and I have faith in the wisdom of the party to be able to deal with this issue." "In fact, it is this faith which kept me from issuing this statement earlier.  Unfortunately, despite my best effort the party has been unable to take a decision in the matter," he said. Recalling that in the past too he had raised his voice against supporting Anshuman Mishra in the Rajya Sabha elections, Sinha said, "The party had heeded my advice then as I hope it does now.”

"The BJP has always set the highest standard of conduct in the past which should be followed even now.  We were a party with a difference earlier.  We must continue to be a party with a difference even today and in future."

The former Union Minister said he has been "greatly saddened" by the events over the last few weeks.

"We have also deeply disappointed those who were looking towards us to fight the mind boggling corruption of the Congress party.

"Whether our party president is guilty or not is not the issue today. The issue is that all of us in public life should be beyond reproach. We have no right to let down the people of India this is what we have done by taking the easy way out through a questionable method of self certification," he said taking a dig at Gurumurthy's clean chit.

Sinha said this is the time to stand up and be counted. "I seek nothing for myself. I have nothing left to prove in my life. But, I want that each member of the BJP should be able to hold his high as we have always done. The MP from Hazaribagh in Jharkhand said the party should continue to serve the people with pride and honour.

"We must ensure that the country comes out of the present morass of corruption and does not sink deeper in it. Our credentials must not be questioned in this fight against corruption."

In order to achieve all this and to enable the BJP fulfill its historic task to the people of India, Sinha said, "I call upon Shri Nitin Gadkari, with all the humility at my command, to immediately step down from the post of party president."

"I would also like to put this question to the workers of the party and people at large. If I am wrong, please tell me so. If I am right, please support me in whatever way you can."

Sinha said the highest standard of conduct set by leaders like Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Atal Behari Vaypayee and L K Advani must be adhered to at all costs.

"The nation is in peril, our democracy is threatened and our future is far from perfect. The BJP must rise to the occasion and save the country," he said.

While demanding Gadkari's resignation, Ram Jethmalani had claimed the support of Yashwant Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha and Jaswant Singh. Senior BJP leader from Karnataka Jagdish Shettigar had also demanded Gandkari's resignation in the wake of allegations against him.


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