New Delhi, May 31: Sanjay Joshi squatted, the BJP sweated.
Joshi’s lead appearance among a crowd of BJP workers squatting on the highway connecting the capital with Noida during today’s “Bharat bandh” has left the party perplexed, with leaders wondering who had invited the man Narendra Modi hates.
“I was taken aback when I spotted him,” said a Delhi BJP office-bearer.
Joshi was last week dropped as a special invitee to the BJP national executive that met in Mumbai after Modi, who has a long-standing turf war with the former RSS pracharak (whole-timer), created a “him-or-me” situation.
BJP president Nitin Gadkari was forced to ask Joshi to withdraw, with Modi virtually tying his endorsement of an extension for the party chief and his attendance at the conclave to Joshi’s ouster.
Joshi had even cried off a visit to Gujarat, reportedly on the invitation of BJP workers, after Modi objected.
But on returning to Delhi, Joshi had made it plain he had no plans to quit the BJP entirely or maintain a low profile.
A source said he would shortly meet RSS leaders, “sort” out the issues arising from the Mumbai episode and seek a “larger” role in the BJP.
Modi had earlier asked the Sangh to use Joshi in one of its front organisations like the VHP or the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram.
This morning, Joshi, like the other BJP workers, wrapped a saffron bandana with the lotus emblem around his head and sat in the first row among Delhi leaders and activists who blocked traffic on the arterial Nizamuddin Highway. He later courted arrest.
Spokesperson Prakash Javadekar later reeled off the names of the leaders who were detained but omitted Joshi’s. Asked about the omission, he said: “There are several names. I have not included all.”
A source close to Joshi said the disgraced-but-rehabilitated former pracharak did not need an invite because he had “actively” worked for the BJP in the recent Delhi municipal elections that the party won.
Joshi was also part of Gadkari’s special team for Uttar Pradesh polls. A seasoned hand — he was the BJP’s organising secretary before he fell in disgrace after a sleaze CD allegedly featuring him was circulated — old-timers insist he is an “asset” even today.
The source said he would move to Lucknow and get things going for the BJP in the soon-to-be-held local body polls.
Others said the extent of his “rehabilitation” would depend on how he “behaves” with Modi. “We cannot risk annoying Modi before the Gujarat elections,” a source said.