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Joshi stays minister as Shanta clears air

chandigarh Updated: May 30, 2014 09:32 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
arun jaitley

Following confusion over his recent resignation, local bodies minister Anil Joshi on Thursday claimed that the BJP high command had asked him to continue as minister and work with zeal to bring things in the department on track.

On May 16, after finance minister Arun Jaitley faced a humiliating defeat from Amritsar, Joshi had tendered his resignation taking moral responsibility for the debacle.

"I had resigned from the cabinet taking moral responsibility for the defeat of Jaitleyji. It was not the defeat of our party's national figure but the rejection of our government by the people. Since all of us had requested Jaitleyji to contest from Amritsar, taking moral responsibility I had resigned. But the party wants me to continue," said Joshi, who also holds the charge of medical education and research department.

Joshi was in Jalandhar on Thursday to hold a meeting with the municipal corporation officials to get suggestions for improving the functioning of the civic body.

"The defeat in Amritsar is a shocker for us and senior party leaders of the SAD and the BJP are aware where our policies went wrong. If we improve, we have the chances of winning the next assembly polls, otherwise you all know what may happen," said the minister, when asked to comment over the recent interview by BJP state chief Kamal Sharma to HT, in which he had said that the "mafia tag" on the government went against the SAD-BJP combine in the Lok Sabha polls.

Joshi had forwarded his resignation to Kamal Sharma, who forwarded it to party's Punjab affairs in-charge Shanta Kumar.

When HT asked Shanta Kumar to clear the air over the issue, he said Joshi's resignation was never accepted. "Joshi had resigned but the party did not accept it. Tendering resignation and accepting it are two different things. The party wants Joshi to work hard," said Kumar.

He said any move to make a possible change in the government will be taken after the five-member committee of the BJP comes up with the reasons behind the party's shrinking vote bank.

Meanwhile, many BJP leaders opposed to the Kamal Sharma group, of which Joshi is also part, feel Joshi's resignation was a political drama to avert the onus of Jaitley's defeat. "It shows Joshi's resignation was a well-planned strategy to take a safe way out of facing the heat of Jaitley's defeat from Amritsar," a senior BJP leader in the state said.