The Web


Home > News > Elections 2004 > Special

The Rediff Special / George Iype

May 04, 2004

Murli Manohar Joshi.

70. Born on January 5, 1934

Comprises wife Tarla and two daughters, Priyamvada and Nivedita.

The Sangh Parivar
Dr Joshi joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in 1944 at the age of 10. He was arrested for protesting against the ban on the RSS in 1948 in the wake of Mahatma Gandhi's assassination.

Saffron standing
Dr Joshi is the third most important leader in the
Bharatiya Janata Party, after Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani. Arguably, he is the RSS's favourite among the BJP's top three leaders.

Dr Know
He has done his MSc in Physics, and has a PhD in spectroscopy from Allahabad University, where he also taught.

He was a teacher?
He taught physics at Allahabad University for a long time, until he retired as professor and head of the physics department. He is among the few politicians to have pursued his academic career with gusto even when he was engaged in a political career.

The beginning
During his university days, Dr Joshi's thinking was shaped by RSS stalwarts like Guru M S Golwalkar, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya and Professor Rajendra Singh. He was the BJP's first general secretary in 1980. He is a firm believer in Swadeshi and Hindutva.

Yes Minister
He is minister for human resources development. Additionally, he has charge of science and technology and ocean development. He was home minister in the 13-day Atal Bihari Vajpayee government back in 1996, when Advani had not contested the election.

No Minister
He has emerged as the most controversial HRD minister ever. With what critics call his
'saffronisation' agenda for education, Dr Joshi has raised hackles. In the last six months he has grabbed headlines thanks to his confrontation with IIMs and IITs over reducing their fees and making them more affordable. He wants the IIMs to cut their annual fee by a whopping 70 percent -- from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 30,000. Some liken him to Don Quixote tilting at windmills.

Achilles Heel

Dr Joshi also triggered off a resignation drama that lasted 13 days and revealed the bickering within the BJP.

The issue? The case against Advani, Dr Joshi and six others, all leaders of the BJP and its affiliates. Should charges be framed against them for their involvement in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992?

Dr Joshi resigned after charges were framed against him, Advani and six others. This, even after the BJP leadership indicated that no one need resign since the case was political in nature. Political observers felt Dr Joshi was trying to force Advani to quit should charges be framed.

The special court at Rae Bareli, while dropping charges against Advani, framed them against Dr Joshi and the others.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee did not reject his resignation immediately.

Dr Joshi appealed against the special court's decision in the Allahabad high court, which stayed the framing of charges against the minister and asked for the records to hear the case. Following which, Vajpayee rejected Dr Joshi's resignation. The court case is still on.

Latest Controversy
After Vajpayee revealed succession plans are in place in the BJP, hinting that Advani will take over from him, Dr Joshi has tried to assert his position. In an interview with the television channel Aaj Tak, Dr Joshi said while the number one, two and three positions of the party are decided, the same cannot be said of the government. 'Who will occupy the top slot in the government will have to be decided by the people,' he told the channel.

The BJP, keen to avoid any embarassment, has said Vajpayee will lead the government till the next general election scheduled for 2009. The prime minister will then be 85.

The Sangam
Allahabad was the cradle of Dr Joshi's political life, and he has been elected to the Lok Sabha from here since 1996. He claims credit for setting up the modern Indian Institute of Information Technology in the city. He has also helped set up the K S Krishnan Institute for Geo-magnetic Studies, the Science City, the Indo-Russian Centre of Bio-Informatics, and the Rajarshi Tandon Open University at Allahabad.

The Josh Machine
Among the many honours that have come his way, Dr Joshi is an honorary academician on section ecology of the International Academy of Ecology, Man and Nature Protection Sciences, the Russian Federation. He was elected a fellow of the Russian National Academy of Natural Sciences in 2001, the first Indian to be elected to the academy, which has 24 Nobel Laureates among its members.

Vikalp (The Alternative) and Pragya Pravah (The Continuing Wisdom), both in Hindi. Has also published about 100 research papers in national and international scientific journals.

Image: Rahil Shaikh

Article Tools
Email this article
Top emailed links
Print this article
Write us a letter
Discuss this article

Related Stories

How to improve school education

Move to slash IIM fees retrograde: Narayana Murthy

BJP's nuts and bolts man

People Who Read This Also Read

'With me Jayalalithaa can relax'

Can this man rescue the BJP?

50% voting in Phase III

India Votes 2004 | The Rediff Specials

Share your comments

 What do you think about the story?

Read what others have to say:

Number of User Comments: 4

Sub: MM Joshi- Dr. No

Dr Joshi may not possess the charisma and appeal of Atalji or Advaniji. But there are several other facets of his personality that the press ...

Posted by S Balachandran

Sub: Nomencalature

I appreciated the use of the nomenclature "Dr Know" in the article. But I could not understand how "No Minister" came to be used. Even ...

Posted by Philip Thomas

Sub: Dr. MMJoshi

PRetty impressive, academically.. But the Astrology factor seems to have slipped the article - maybe, under the heading "Fallacies"?:))

Posted by ksey

Sub: Need more scholars

In present political scenario we cannot completely isolate the good and bad rather we need to select those leaders who are more positive minded. Dr. ...

Posted by Santosh Singh


Copyright © 2004 India Limited. All Rights Reserved.