Ever since Murli Manohar Joshi returned from Hyderabad after making the controversial "there is no Modi wave" statement, he is paying the price for rubbing party the wrong way.
A file photo of BJP senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi addressing the media at his residence in New Delhi. (HT photo/Vipin Kumar)
The workers, all charged-up Modi fans, look hell bent on making the party's Lok Sabha candidate from Kanpur realise the wave indeed was in favour of BJP's prime ministerial nominee.
So, wherever Joshi goes for campaigning, the fans follow him chanting Modi-Modi.
"Not once do they take his name," said a Joshi supporter.
In fact, to stress the point more strongly, a poster that reads "Modi zaroori hai, Joshi majboori hai" greeted the party veteran at Lucknow crossing in Harbans Mohala on Monday.
Adding to the insult, some enthusiastic workers waved handwritten placards before Joshi's face while he was walking through lanes of the locality.
"Senior party leaders had to struggle hard to deal with hurt supporters who took on Joshi indirectly," said a party leader, wishing anonymity.
Party's Kanpur president Surendra Maithani tried damage control, saying Joshi's comments had been distorted and that he was contesting the election in Modi's name.
"How can a tall leader like Joshiji deny Modi wave. It is there," said Maithani.
Asked about placards, Maithani blamed the rivals. "Those were not BJP workers, but opposition members sent to malign Joshiji for political ends," he said.
Besides the party cadre, the Sangh Parivar, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal have taken an exception to Joshi's statement.
Modi Army, an RSS-supported organisation, has threatened not to campaign for Joshi in Kanpur.
"The workers are extremely angry with Joshiji. We have conveyed our sentiments to the state and central leadership," said Ashutosh Dixit, president of Modi Army.
This marks a new low to Joshi's campaign marked by rocky relationship with local leaders who had initially dubbed him as outsider.
Joshi had reluctantly vacated Varnasi seat, which he represented, for Modi reportedly at the insistence of the RSS. He is also seen close to veteran leader LK Advani, who had initially opposed Modi's elevation to the post of the party's chief campaigner for Lok Sabha polls.