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The Rediff Special/Sheela Bhatt in Mumbai
Sex and the CD: Sanjay Joshi's rise and fall
December 28, 2005
Sanjay Joshi, who is in the spotlight for the sex CD controversy that has hit the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party in the midst of the latter's silver jubilee celebrations, is an unusual man.
A bachelor and a quiet political worker, he is Sanjaybhai to those close to him.
The 39-year-old, a mechanical engineer by qualification, is media-phobic. You will never find him giving out sound bytes to television cameras or airing his opinions in a studio.
But within the BJP and the RSS, he is famous for his organisational skills and his reach among the party and Sangh rank and file.
In 1990, he wanted to contest elections from Nagpur but the party didn't give him a ticket. So, he opted for Gujarat. The RSS sent him to Ahmedabad as its pracharak.
He is a man who travels sleeper-class, lives a simple life and is never seen splurging. He is an introvert, who will not even talk to women.
Before the sex CD incident, he was a link between the RSS and the BJP, being an RSS man planted in the BJP. Everybody took it for granted that he was not just a bachelor but celibate too.
The average BJP and RSS worker does not believe Sanjaybhai can do anything immoral or improper.
Many years ago, Sanjay Joshi's archrival was none other than Narendra Modi, who was also a pracharak in Gujarat. But where Modi liked costly watches, stylish shoes and designer kurtas, in contrast Joshi was almost a saint.
But now, the news of him having been caught on tape with a woman has devastated the loyal RSS and BJP workers.
The BJP might be celebrating its silver jubilee, but the party is over.
On Tuesday, second day of the national executive meet, senior leaders hardly debated any issue seriously. Atal Bihari Vajpayee left halfway for Madhya Pradesh because an old colleague had passed away.
Even when he was present at the conclave, the former prime minister looked uninterested and disgusted at the goings-on. Former human resources development minister Dr Murli Manohar Joshi was desperately defending himself for a quote he swore he hadn't given. Lal Kishenchand Advani, of course, was counting his hours as party president.
There was not much talk on an economic resolution. A former minister said, "The Sanjay Joshi episode has eclipsed the event. We were told to leave as soon as TV channels started airing that Joshi has resigned."
The Joshi episode has two fallouts for the conservative, rightwing crowd at the conclave in Bandra, a Mumbai suburb.
One, Joshi was the RSS's model worker, so for him to be caught flagrante delicto is like a slap on the conservatives' collective face.
Two, it has helped the new generation of BJP leaders who believe the RSS's stubborn approach to the lifestyles of political leaders is outdated and wrong. It is wrong because it smacks of hypocrisy, say the new crop of BJP workers and leaders.
A man is judged by the standard he sets for himself, said a BJP leader who was bugged at Joshi's clout in the party.
The final shock for the RSS was that an insider leaked the scandal to the media.
When the cassette was originally sent to the BJP leaders, they didn't sympathise with Joshi. That made a cover-up impossible.
Joshi is against Gujarat Chief minister Modi's style of functioning and the corrupt ways of some BJP leaders. He is also dead against the BJP deviating even an inch from the RSS's philosophy. Joshi was spearheading a campaign to counter Advani's efforts to initiate a debate over Mohammed Ali Jinnah's role in the independence movement.
Before his resignation, Joshi might not have been a big leader, but state level leaders shared with him secrets about all BJP and RSS leaders. He was the 'organisation minister'. He knew everybody by name and BJP workers across the country told him of the doings and wrongdoings of their state leaders.
He knew the secrets of powerful leaders like Modi and Uma Bharti, Pramod Mahjan and Sushma Swaraj.
In that sense, Sanjay Joshi was more powerful than he appeared. That was dangerous for leaders who have skeletons hiding in their cupboards.
And, he was after Bharti's case, and reportedly raked up the issue of her proximity to Govindacharya time and again.
It is believed that a big BJP leader may be involved either in the 'sting operation' to trap him, or in leaking it to the media.
So far, the identity of the woman seen with Joshi in the video is not known. But unconfirmed reports say she is from the northeast, lives in Bhilai, Madhya Pradesh, and that her parents are in Kolkata.
Joshi claims the tapes are a concerted effort to malign him. Maybe so, but most BJP and RSS workers are convinced Sanjaybhai's career is over.
Who recorded the alleged sex act? Was his partner willing? Did she tape the incident because their relationship had soured, or was she bought over by Joshi's detractors? Or, if Joshi is 'innocent', who got a Joshi look-alike to make the tape?
Questions and rumours are flying thick and fast in the BJP. Its celebrations are turning into a sordid joke.
For the BJP, 2005 has been an annus horribilis.
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