Yashodhara Raje Scindia
New Delhi, July 2: Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayees nephew Anoop Mishra today resigned as Madhya Pradesh health minister.
There had been a public outcry in Mishras home district, Gwalior, after his son and relatives allegedly shot dead a youth and injured five others over a land dispute on June 23.
Mishras party colleague, Gwalior MP Yashodhara Raje Scindia, queered the pitch for the Vajpayee kin yesterday when she visited Bela village and cried with the victims kin.
Eyewitness accounts said when Yashodhara heard the deceaseds mother, Ram Rati Bai, mourn hai mera lal (Oh my son) she removed her shades to wipe tears rolling down her cheeks.
The former Gwalior princesss tears on the death of 17-year-old Bikum Kushwaha, who belonged to a weaker section of the society, is said to have deeply moved the top BJP leadership.
President Nitin Gadkari and the party general secretary in charge of Madhya Pradesh, Anant Kumar, are in Ratlam district with chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Today, Gadkari advised Mishra to step down in keeping with the partys resolve to maintain probity in public life.
Mishra was a senior minister in Chauhans cabinet and had been keeping a brave face over the past few days, ruling out his resignation.
In Gwalior BJP circles, Mishra is perceived as a rival of sorts to Yashodhara. Two senior party leaders, national general secretary Narendra Singh Tomar and state BJP chief Prabhat Jha, who hail from Gwalior, are said to have backed Yashodharas thrust for Mishras exit.
Mishra announced his resignation in the morning and the chief minister forwarded it to the Raj Bhavan.
Mishra said he had the highest regard for the rule of law and wanted to quit as minister until his name was cleared by court.
Mishras son Ashwani, brothers Ajay and Abhay, cousin Deepak Vajpayee and brother-in-law Yogesh Sharma are facing charges of murder, attempt to murder and rioting. But none of the accused has yet been arrested.
Gwaliors additional superintendent of police Manohar Verma said: The police are busy maintaining law and order
. We did not get (the) time to arrest the accused.
Police officers said the accused, who allegedly wanted possession of two acres adjacent to the Institute of Professional Studies owned by Mishra, went to Bela village on June 23 and tried to intimidate villagers using the land as an approach road. An altercation followed and some of the assailants opened fire on protesting farmers.
Mishra had expressed grief but rejected the calls for his exit. He had repeatedly said: I would like to say that I have always helped the weaker sections of the society. I have always been committed to safeguarding their interests and will continue to do so.
But many of his party colleagues, including Yashodhara and Gwalior MLA Narain Singh Kushwaha, had lobbied hard along with Tomar and Jha to prevail upon Gadkari to ensure Mishras exit.