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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.