The grapevine has it that Sanjay Joshi will be deployed in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the 2017 polls to campaign for the BJP. With the entrance of Sheila Dikshit, the BJP is worried the upper class Brahmin vote bank in the state will tilt towards the Congress. Joshi’s primary task will be to consolidate the RSS’ presence in the state. While Joshi may balance the scales, he brings with him an RSS backing and an over two-decade long feud with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sanjay Joshi’s relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi goes back a long way to when the two were appointed secretaries of the Gujarat BJP in 1988. While Modi has gone on to become one of the world’s most powerful leaders, Joshi remains a behind-the-scenes man, garnering support from the grassroots.Their relationship broke off after Modi was repressed and Joshi was elevated to the position of general secretary of the party in Gujarat (Modi believes he was expelled due to Joshi). Separately, there was a controversial sex tape which amounted to tension between the two.
Even though his dispute with Modi is referred to from time to time, Joshi still maintains a good relationship with a lot of BJP leaders in Gujarat and in the national fray—BJP workers have set up a “Sanjay Joshi fan club”. He also commands respect within the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
In fact, the RSS had suggested bringing Joshi into the picture ahead of the Bihar polls in November 2015, however the BJP refused. Now, despite the BJP’s portrayal of a pro-backward class party, it is looking to capitalise on upper class votes—which the party thought will support them by default. This will ensure the Brahmin votes won’t go to Dikshit. In RSS pockets in the state, Joshi is bound to do well. While also campaigning for the BJP, he may run the risk of spreading the RSS imprint, something the BJP has been heavily criticised for in the last two years.
Let’s not forget that Sanjay Joshi worked in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the 2011 assembly polls. He continued his ground work before the 2014 General Elections as well.
Recent events including the Gujarat Dalit stir and Dayashankar Singh’s comment describing BSP chief Mayawati as “worse than a prostitute” seems to have left the BJP in damage control. Can Sanjay Joshi regain the lost ground?