For years a political “untouchable” within the BJP, its former national general secretary Sanjay Joshi, a skilled hand in micro-managing electoral battles, may make a comeback to assist the party in its tough Lok Sabha fight in Uttar Pradesh where it is likely to face a tough challenge from the Opposition “mahagathbandhan”.
Joshi, who had fallen out of favour with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is now expected to be given organisational responsibility in the electorally key State where BJP has to defend its spectacular record of 2104, winning 71 out of 80 seats.
“Joshi’s induction has backing of the RSS and the top BJP leadership,” sources said.
Joshi was forced to resign in 2005 as BJP general secretary in the wake of the appearance of a controversial CD, which was later found to be fake.
After being sidelined for years, in 2012 then BJP president Nitin Gadkari made him in-charge of UP Assembly elections.
The same year, after the BJP’s poll debacle in UP, Joshi was forced out of BJP’s national executive and he resigned from the party. Joshi’s ouster was then attributed to Narendra Modi’s ire against him.
In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the former RSS “pracharak” handled Gadkari’s election in the Nagpur constituency. Post-demonenisation, Joshi praised Modi’s move and looked set for a journey back into a pro-active role in the party, beyond the acrimonious relations with the Prime Minister.
In the recent past, Joshi made several visits to Uttar Pradesh, where he has been meeting party workers at the ground level.
Former Gujarat Minister Gordhan Zadaphia, who had also fallen out with Modi and launched his own party, was in December inducted by BJP president Amit Shah as one the three leaders in-charge for the party’s electioneering in UP.
“Zadaphia could bring together the split VHP foot-soldiers in UP after the exit of Praveen Togadia who has formed a separate outfit,” sources said.
Besides, such an important role in the key State of UP is also “a message to Patel community in Gujarat”, they said.
Zadaphia, a former VHP general secretary had, like Joshi, quit the BJP after being sidelined by the party following the 2002 riots when he was the Minister of State for Home. He returned to the party during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.