M A I N   N E W S

Joshi dual-vote case miffs CM Badal, worries BJP
Perneet Singh & PK Jaiswar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 13
Punjab Local Bodies Minister Anil Joshi, caught in the dual-vote controversy, today got a court breather, but his problems remain far from over. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley have conveyed their displeasure over the entire episode.

An Amritsar court on Tuesday granted bail to Joshi in three cases filed by advocate Vaneet Mahajan and his colleague Sandeep Gorsi. Non-bailable arrest warrants were issued against the minister on May 3 for not appearing in the court hearing two defamation cases against him filed by Mahajan and Gorsi for calling them “blackmailers” in the dual-votes allegations and a case of criminal trespass.

Vasudev Behal and Vaneet Mahajan’s wife Renu Mahajan argued on behalf of the complainants and opposed bail to Joshi. They said Mahajan and Gorsi could not appear before the court for arguments as Mahajan was in hospital following a “murderous attack” while the latter had been "implicated in a false case of attempt to murder".

However, Amandeep Singh — appearing on Joshi’s behalf — argued the minister had already been granted bail and assured the court he would be present in the next hearing.

The court allowed bail, but asked Joshi to appear before the court on May 20. The court had issued non-bailable warrants against him.

Sources said CM Badal is learnt to have conveyed his displeasure over the Joshi episode to the BJP leadership. The Akali Dal is learnt to be particularly peeved by the timing of the incident in the midst of the Lok Sabha election during which the ruling alliance had to face the voters’ ire on account of anti-incumbency. The Congress had targeted the ruling alliance over the drug trade and sand mafia in the poll campaign. The BJP, too, is worried. Senior leader and party’s Amritsar candidate Arun Jaitley, who arrived in the holy city this morning, met Joshi and state BJP chief Kamal Sharma at the airport. Though party leaders remained tight-lipped about what transpired, sources said Jaitley expressed his disapproval with the way things have unfolded in the last few days. He was particularly peeved with the timing of the controversy.

Joshi, it is learnt, was at pains to explain how the two lawyers had “targeted” him. He did not come out of the airport with Jaitley after the meeting. Jaitley seemed to be avoiding the media during his visit. Though he did interact with select mediapersons at the airport, he didn't respond to queries on the Joshi case. State BJP chief Kamal Sharma could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

BJP spokesman RP Singh Maini said "unnecessary hype was created" regarding complaints filed against Joshi. He said the court issued non-bailable warrants as the minister could not appear before the court due to some reasons. He condemned the attack on Mahajan and said the perpetrators of the crime should be arrested, adding the police should also nab the attackers of Rakesh Bhardwaj, Joshi’s PA.

The Congress today kept up the pressure. Party workers led by MLAs OP Soni, Rajkumar Verka and Sukh Sarkaria courted arrest after a dharna near Joshi’s residence. They sought the immediate arrest of those involved in the assault on Mahajan and cancellation of "false case" of attempt to murder against Gorsi. AAP Amritsar candidate Dr Daljit Singh met Vaneet Mahajan and his brother Avneesh Mahajan in hospital and sought Joshi’s arrest. Heavy police force was deployed in the area as the BJP, too, held a counter-protest in Joshi’s support.





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