Jana Sangh Co-Founder’s son, Ex-BJP Minister Joins Congress
Bhopal: Carrying his late father Kailash Joshi’s portrait in one hand and a two-feet-long mace in the other, senior BJP leader Deepak Joshi joined the Congress in Bhopalin poll-bound Madhya Pradesh on Saturday.
“I am Deepak from Jana Sangh,” the 60-year-old leader introduced himself at the Congress office in the state capital. “My father, who gave his life to the Bhartiya Jana Sangh and the BJP, was neither respected nor his legacy preserved,” he told the media.
“If the Congress leadership allows, I want to contest from Budhni Assembly seat against [chief minister] Shivraj Singh Chouhan—and I know how to defeat him,” he urged state party chief Kamal Nath.
Joshi, a former school education minister from the BJP and a three-time MLA from Bagli and Hathpipaliya Assembly seats (Dewas district), is the son of late CM Kailash Joshi, one of the co-foundersof the BJP’s predecessor Bharatiya Jana Sangh.
Joshi’s father, who represented the Bagli Assembly seat between 1962 to 1998, was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2004 and 2009. “He was among the tallest leader of BJP who rooted for the party in the state along with Kushabhau Thakre and Sunderlal Patwa after the BJP’s creation” a BJP leader told Newsclick.
Joshiexplained how the BJP “illtreated him and disrespected his father and their family” and blamed chief minister (CM) Shivraj Singh Chouhan for his wife’s deathduring the pandemic.
“When my wife was infected with the COVID-19 virus, I called the district administration (Dewas) to provide an ambulance in Indore. Since CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan had instructed officials not to comply with my order, they did not send an ambulance and she succumbed,” he alleged.
“Yesterday was her death anniversary,”an emotional Joshi said adding that “no one from the BJP called him after his father passed awaywhereas Congress leaders personally expressed their condolences”despite political differences.
When Kailash died in 2019, the then-CM Kamal Nath announced to build a memorial in his name in Bargi, which he represented for 40 years. Joshi alleged that the Congress-approved project was “deliberately stalled by Shivraj Singh Chouhan. But his bungalow on Link Road has been expanded and renovated in six months”.
“I have joined the Congress for respect. This is a new Mahabharata,” he said.
Apart from Joshi, former BJP MLA from Datia district Radheshyam Baghel joined the Congress on Saturday.
Joshi lost the 2018 Assembly election from Hathpipaliya to Congress’s Manoj Choudhary, who switched to the BJP with Jyotiraditya Scindia in March 2020. “Choudhary won the by-poll on the BJP ticket from the seat which was Joshi’s home turf. It baffled Joshi and seemedthe end of his political career in the BJP,” a Congress leader told Newsclick.
Last week, when Joshi hinted at joining the Congress to the media, BJP leaders denied it. BJP state president VD Sharma said, “He is an inseparable and dedicated party leader. The news of his joining the Congress is just a rumour,” he had told reporters.
Chouhan and state home minister Narottam Mishra also made similar claims recalling their association with Kailash while senior party leaders tried to pacify Joshi in close-door meetings. BJP state-in-charge P Murlidhar Rao travelled from Delhi to Dewas to stop Joshi’s impending exit.
After recent BJP surveys showed a Congress majority in the 2023 election, senior party leaders have started questioning the leadership and its functioning. The party has decided to change candidates on more than 100 seats, which is bothering the senior leaders eyeing to contest.
Joshi’s exit triggered criticism from senior BJP leaders from the era of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advanidisappointed with the party leadership and Scindia’s entry.
Former minister and Vajpayee’s nephew Anup Mishra, senior leader and MLA Bhawar Singh Shekhawatand former Rajya Sabha member Raghunandan Sharma publicly criticised the BJP for its functioning after Joshi’s exit.Former MLA “Scindia’s entry dampened the party’s values. Those who came with Scindia are looting public money and capturing land and mines,”Shekhawat told the media.
Sharma lamented, “Just like Draupadi had five husbands, the Madhya Pradesh BJP has five presidents.”
Highlightingthe “level of corruption in the party” in the state, Joshi said, “In Karnataka, the BJP is accused of 40% commission in government tenders. But in Madhya Pradesh, it’s 80% commission.”
“Since the government is not running on the principles of the Jana Sangh or the BJP, I’m forced to join Gandhi-Nehru’s Congress party,” he added
Besides, Satna MLA Narayan Tripathi is up in arms against the BJP and has announced floating a new party to contest all the 30 seats in the region.
After Joshi’s exit, the party is trying to pacify the resentment of old-timers. Many of them were called to Bhopal to meet Chouhan and the party’s state president.
Claiming that Joshi joining the Congress “will not affect the BJP’s electoral prospect”, BJP state secretary Rajneesh Agarwal told the media that he might be the “biological legacy of Kailash Joshi but the BJP holds his ideological legacy. The Congress has always been against Kailash Joshi”.
However, Nath said, “Today is a historic day not for the Congress party but for political values. A person whose family dedicated its entire life to the saffron party has parted ways to support the truth. He is not joining the Congress party but supporting truth and integrity.”
“Others in this state also want to support the truth. I invite them,” he appealed to the BJP leaders.
Political experts feel that Joshi’s exit shows the ongoing infighting in the BJP and the brewing resentment among old-timers.
Senior journalist and political commentator NK Singh pointed out, “RSS leaders and old-timers who joined the party due to its ideology were sidelined in the last couple of years and leaders with money and muscle power overtook it.”
Joshi’s exit is “surely a jolt to the saffron party and will benefit the Congress electorally”, he told Newsclick.
Political commentator Arun Dixit said that Joshi’s exit gives a “strong message” to veteran Jana Sangh leaders who worked with his father. “Kailash Joshi built the party and now his son is struggling for his legacy in the BJP.”
He added that the infamous Congress infighting is “affecting” the BJP. “It was evident when BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiyasaid last week that only the BJP can defeat the BJP. Joshi’s move to join the Congress shows the anger of old-timers. Many more may follow.”
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