Friday, September 19, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Joshi to quit if chargesheeted
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 18
In a quick move to settle old political scores, Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi said today that he would resign from the Council of Ministers if charges were framed against him tomorrow by the Rai Bareli special court, which is expected to pronounce its order.

“If charges are framed against me, I will tender my resignation,” Dr Joshi said in an interview with PTI on the eve of the court’s decision tomorrow.

Sources said Dr Joshi’s offer of resignation was in response to media speculations that Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani might resign in case of an adverse verdict on the issue.

Following stories about Mr Advani stealing a march over him on the Ayodhya issue and the Sangh Parivar backing the Deputy Prime Minister wholeheartedly, Dr Joshi had been waiting to politically strike on his old rival.

Dr Joshi, whose political rivalry with Mr Advani is well-known, has tried to score a point by going to the media about his offer of resignation, the sources said, adding that the minister had thus forced the issue.

However, the Bharatiya Janata Party declined to comment on Dr Joshi’s statement, saying that it was too premature as nobody knew about the verdict of the Rai Bareli court.

The party also did not want to react to Dr Joshi’s statement, saying that it had no information about what he had said. “We will cross the bridge when it comes”, BJP spokesman Prakash Jawdekar said.

Asked if the party would accept Dr Joshi’s solution for all BJP leaders, he said, “There is no need for indulging in speculation”. Much would depend on what the court pronounced and it could in all probability drop the charges, he said.

He said there was a difference between a political offence and a criminal offence, indicating that the leaders need not resign if the court was to frame charges without a conspiracy angle. There is also another view in the party that the court may not give an order tomorrow itself.

Earlier, asked as to why there was a need for his resignation as the BJP had been maintaining that it was a political case, Dr Joshi said, “It is up to the Prime Minister to decide what he considers of the order.....It is up to the party to decide”.

He, however, refrained from saying whether other ministers, who were also accused in the case, should follow suit.


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