Given Nagpur's proclivity to remote-control BJP, there is no guarantee ghost of Joshi is laid to rest
Ajay Singh | May 24, 2012
Sanjay Joshi has become the recurrent bad dream for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Much as the party leadership tries to get rid of it, the nightmare returns with a renewed vigour to shake and stupefy the party and its cadre at regular intervals. There is no guarantee that the syndrome would not afflict the party in future.
Just as the BJP’s national executive was about to begin on Thursday, the former general secretary resigned from the executive. Few know that his induction into the executive was as mysterious as is his exit now. In 2005, Joshi was the all powerful general secretary (organisation) and called the shots in the party due to his proximity to the RSS. He played a crucial role in orchestrating an attack on LK Advani following his remarks on Jinnah in Pakistan. Joshi virtually played a cat’s paw of the RSS in marginalising Advani who advocated for autonomy for the BJP in its decision-making.
Joshi succeeded in his game plan until he met his nemesis in Narendra Modi. His attempt to engineer revolt within Gujarat’s BJP was effectively foiled by Modi. At the same time, a mysterious CD which showed Joshi in a compromising position started circulating the media houses. Given the moral yardsticks set for an RSS pracharak, celibacy is sine qua non. Joshi, accused of violating this code, was removed as Pracharak by the RSS apparatchiks. As a corollary, he lost his position of the general secretary (organisation).
That was stage one. The next one was quite virulent. A group of senior RSS leaders and BJP leadership made a determined attempt to restore Joshi’s position and dignity within the party. Then party president Rajnath Singh played a crucial role in his rehabilitation by getting a probe done on the CD episode by the Madhya Pradesh police. MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan ensured that Joshi is given a clean chit. Joshi was rehabilitated once again as the party’s general secretary (organisation).
Within six months, he was mysteriously sacked as the general secretary amid rumours that yet another CD found its way to the RSS headquarters, where Joshi’s sexual indiscretions were found to be unacceptable. By normal standards, Joshi would have faded away from the politics as much (and quickly) as from the Sangh Parivar’s memory. But Joshi’s apparition stayed in the Sangh Parivar and even manifested itself at times. In 2007 Gujarat elections, he tried to square off with Modi by helping rebels and at times even the Congress to cut the strong man to size. But Modi emerged stronger and the Sanjay Joshi phenomenon was kept in check until the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
In 2010, Joshi bounced back with the blessings of new BJP chief Nitin Gadkari and his mentor, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. His induction into the party’s decision-making body was a sleight of hand manoeuvred by Gadkari, which irked Modi. By all indications, it was seen as an overt attempt to flex muscles against Modi and marginalise him within the party. Significantly, Gadkari’s game plan was believed to have a tacit endorsement of the RSS chief. Top BJP leaders admit that Modi was so much enraged over this indiscretion that he even spurned an attempt by one of the senior most leaders to assuage his feelings and patch up on the issue.
Disregarding Modi’s sulk, Gadkari assigned Joshi the task of managing UP elections, a crucial assignment in the RSS’s scheme of things. The realisation that Joshi bungled the UP polls dawned on the Sangh Parivar only after the results saw further marginalisation of the party which was already on the fringes in the country’s largest state. The UP results have grossly undermined the influence of Gadkari and his mentors in the RSS.
However, given the RSS’s proclivity to remote-control the BJP, Gadkari’s second term is a foregone conclusion. The Sangh Parivar’s biggest worry, however, was that the party’s executive sans the party’s most charismatic leader would deprive Gadkari’s anointment for second term a legitimacy. In such a scenario, Sanjay Joshi was found to be expendable for the time being though he is bound to haunt the Sangh Parivar which relishes nightmares more than the reality.
Fire on the Ganges: Life among the Dead in Banaras By Radhika Iyengar 4th Estate / HarperCollins, 348 pages, 599
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