Beijing: The ruling Chinese Communist Party`s plans for a smooth leadership transition next month ran into trouble with over 300 leftist intellectuals of the party asking the rubber stamp Parliament not to expel the disgraced leader, Bo Xilai.
The rare open letter signed by leftist academicians and former communist party officials demanding reasons for Bo`s expulsion was posted on the left-wing Chinese-language website Red China.
"What is the reason provided for expelling Bo Xilai? Please investigate the facts and the evidence," the letter said, raising for the first time public protest over Bo`s expulsion from the party to face trial on a host of charges including sleaze and corruption.
"Please announce to the people evidence that Bo Xilai will be able to defend himself in accordance with the law," the letter said.
The letter by the Chinese leftists, regarded as a small but vocal pressure group within the party said the move was legally questionable and politically motivated.
Those who signed include Li Chengrui, former director of the National Bureau of Statistics, a law professor at Peking University, local legislators, members of the now-closed online leftist forum Utopia, as well as a rights activist in Zhejiang, BBC reported.
The website `Red China` is mostly read outside China as it is blocked here.
Bo`s expulsion from the National People`s Congress(NPC) would remove immunity for Bo, which means he could be prosecuted for the scandal that has led to his wife being sentenced for the murder of a British businessman.
Before being sacked from the party early this year the 63-year-old leader created ripples by playing old Red songs over the television of 30 million people strong Chongqing city, which he headed for several years as Communist Party Chief.
The Chongqing unit has recommended Bo`s expulsion from NPC.
Bo has been expelled from party to face trial on a host of charges including sex, sleaze and corruption besides shielding his wife from probe into her role in the murder of Neil Heywood.
Analysts say that the letter brings about "ideological rift" within the party to open with elements trying to revert back to Mao Zedong`s hard-line policies discarded by the current leadership, while opting for reforms and opening up.
Bo`s downfall started after his close aide and city`s police chief Wang Lijun sought refuge in the US Consulate in Chnegdu fearing backlash from Bo over the investigations into the involvement of Bo`s wife Gu Kailai in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood in November last year.
Gu was given suspended death sentence in the case while Wang was awarded 15 years jail term.
The party leadership headed by Hu Jintao, which was concerned over Bo`s left wing rhetoric playing up on growing rich poor divide in the country, seized the opportunity and launched a major crackdown on Bo and his associates cleansing the party at various levels.
The party discipline unit has already completed investigations into Bo`s case and he is expected to go on trial before Congress opens on November 8. Bo was expected to run for the selection to the all-powerful Standing Committee, which runs the country.
State-run Xinhua news agency reported that the Politburo has decided to amend the Party`s constitution but did not specify.
Ahead of the leadership change, the Party officially projected Vice President, Xi Jinping and Vice Premier, Li Keqiang as successors to Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao.
Speculation is rife that the Party plans to reduce the number of members in the Standing Committee of the Politburo, from nine to seven to improve the coordination of the joint leadership system.