The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Forsaken by party, toasted in hometown
Joshi: Happy homecoming

Allahabad, Sept. 21: A downcast Murli Manohar Joshi could not have asked for a better morale booster than a visit to his parliamentary constituency of Allahabad.

After a rapturous reception by a euphoric crowd today, Joshi appeared to be relishing his indictment in the Babri Masjid demolition case by the Rae Bareli court. “Now that I have your support, I am confident that I will win the battle in the court also,” he told the throng of supporters at the railway station.

Slogans of “Jai Shri Ram” rent the air as the Prayag Raj Express rolled into platform no. 1 at Allahabad Junction and Joshi alighted on his first visit to the city since sending his resignation as human resources development minister to the Prime Minister.

Joshi waded through the jostling crowd for half an hour to reach his car outside. His convoy took an hour more to reach his 10 George Town home as people gathered on the roads greeted him with: “Joshi nahin akele hain, unke peechhe chele hain (Joshi is not alone, with him are his disciples).”

Local BJP worker Ram Daras summed up the reaction succinctly. “Allahabad has been the cradle of his political life and the city of his destiny for the last 40 years. But never before has Joshi received such a spontaneous reception — not even when he was a minister,” he said, amid supporters who tried to elbow each other out to touch Joshi’s feet.

Aaj main mantri nahin, santri hoon, par mujhe atmasantushti hai (Today, I am not a minister, but an ordinary worker. Yet, I am filled with satisfaction),” a smiling Joshi said, reclining on a divan in his 10 George Town home. As for his resignation, he was terse: “Let the Prime Minister return and you will know.”

Unlike the past few days when BJP leaders appeared to have forsaken him, today Uttar Pradesh unit chief Vinay Katiyar rushed to welcome Joshi.

Katiyar joined his supporters, including senior state leaders, in badgering him not to press his resignation. “I have told him that if he resigns, he will only be obliging his political opponents.” Asked to identify them, he said: “I will do so at an appropriate stage.”

Katiyar was closeted with Joshi for an hour before sharing the dais with him at a Dalit convention organised by the BJP’s SC/ST Morcha.

Katiyar described the member of the BJP triumvirate — along with Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani — “as the principal ideologue of the BJP’s faith in social justice”. Advani was not mentioned at the meet, where the slogan went: “Atal-Joshi amar rahen (Long live Atal-Joshi).”

State BJP leaders’ plans for Joshi were voiced by Allahabad BJP committee chief Rameshwar Shukla. “Apart from Joshi, Katiyar and (VHP’s Ashok) Singhal hail from Uttar Pradesh and we will now fight for the construction of the Ram temple under their leadership,” he said.

Thousands of Sangh parivar workers will go to Rae Bareli on October 10 when the CBI court frames charges against Joshi and others, he added.

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