Popularity of Sanjay Joshi irks BJP leadership

Kanpur/Lucknow: Are cracks in the BJP ranks showing or there are indications of a new political equations in the offing? Answer to both looks in affirmative if one goes by the posters of Bharatiya Janata Party veteran Murli Manohar Joshi and once a staunch RSS man Sanjay Joshi in Kanpur.

Sanjay Joshi, known to have lost favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi since the latter came to power, has been pushed to the sidelines but the posters in his support in Kanpur caused a flutter in the party organisation, specially the Uttar Pradesh unit..

The recent posters pasted right beneath the BJP’s office, before they were promptly removed by the local leaders in a huff, said ‘ BJP ki Majboori Hai, Modi-Joshi Ekta Zaroori Hai’ (It is BJP’s compulsion to have Modi-Joshi Unity’ obviously favouring Sanjay Joshi. Another poster said ‘Sarkar Sambhalen Modi, Sangthan Sambhalen Joshi’ (Modi should take care of the government while the organisation should be given to Joshi).

Notably, the Kanpur Lok Sabha constituency belongs to Murli Manohar Joshi, another out-of-favour political heavyweight of the saffron party. 

A senior BJP leader, on the condition of anonymity, told NewsMobile that Sanjay Joshi has many supporters in Kanpur and he has already visited the city several times. Why Kanpur has been chosen as the place from where the demand of Sanjay Joshi’s rehabilitation is being raised, could not be ascertained immediately. But the senior state leaders, refusing to come on record, admit that it amounts to indiscipline, if nothing more. 

Joshi, an RSS pracharak in the late 1980s, had been sent from Maharashtra to Ahmedabad to join the BJP. For a few years, he shared a functioning equation with Modi.  For almost a decade, he ruled Gujarat by proxy with Patel as chief minister, while leveraging his closeness with the RSS leadership in Nagpur to keep Modi out of the state for much of the 1990s.

In 2001, when Modi returned to Gandhinagar as chief minister, the RSS shifted Joshi to Delhi, giving him the critical position of BJP general secretary in charge of the organisation. But Joshi was forced to resign in 2005, following a controversy about a controversial video allegedly featuring him. Though the video later turned out to be fake, Joshi remained persona non grata until he was rehabilitated as chief coordinator for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections in 2012 by Nitin Gadkari, the BJP President at the time.

The exercise proved short-lived as Modi, who was Gujarat chief minister at the time, refused to participate in the BJP’s national executive, which was being held later in Mumbai that year, unless Joshi was told to leave the venue and the city.

Since then, Joshi has remained in obscurity, holding no post either in the BJP or in the RSS. But party insiders admit that his popularity has soared among the BJP’s lower-level leaders and cadres in the Hindi belt over the past few months. He continues to enjoy an extremely good rapport with many RSS leaders and pracharaks across the country.

The real boiling point came last month when hundreds of BJP workers went to his Delhi residence to greet him on his birthaday on April 6.

Some of his posters donned the walls of stae coaital of Uttar Pradesh but not on large scale but the recent splurge of his posters in Kanpur has surprised many BJP leaders. 

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