© Asian Age

State goes on the offensive, slaps Sharad with a notice

By Ojas Mehta

Gandhinagar: Furious over Sharad Joshi's wild and derogatory remarks against chief minister Keshubhai Patel and Narmada minister Jaynarayan Vyas, the state government has decided to take the bull by the horns. It served a notice to the Shetkari Sanghatana leader on Friday.

According to Sachivalaya sources, the state government has decided to serve the notice to peut an end to any possibility of redemption on the "sensitive" situation and of dissuading the farmer's leader from performing the kar seva was not sight. The timing of the notice however indicates that the state government exhausted its patience before ensuring that there is no softening in Mr Joshi's adamant posture.

Mr Joshi had drawn parallels between the chief minister and General Dyer responsible for the massacre at the Jallianwalla Bag during the independence struggle by purporting that the chief minister had passed orders to crush the rally. Mr Joshi had also earlier used derogatory language in his speeches at Vadodara and had called the chief minister a liar and an arrogant man. Mr Joshi had even alleged that chief minister and Jaynarayan Vyas were "close" to NBA leader Medha Patkar and were in fact anti-Narmada dam.

The state government does not seem to have taken kindly to Mr Joshi's defamatory allegations. Several BJP leaders had already protested against the strong language used by Mr Joshi. Mr Vyas was elusive when asked about the notice but hoped that wiser counsel prevailed over Mr Joshi and he desisted to go ahead with the kar seva. "He should not let false ego come in his way and insist on performing the kar seva by leading a large number of people in the construction area. The kar seva would only harm the state's interest," Mr Vyas said.

Mr Vyas said Mr Joshi has the advantage of having the national and international media focus and hopes to utilise the opportunity by using it for the cause of Gujarat instead of harming it. "He can serve the purpose better by performing a symbolic kar seva down stream and not entering the dam area," he said. Such a kar seva will have the support of the BJP, who will join in wholeheartedly for the cause.

Mr Joshi who is in a defiant mood has already communicated through several press briefings his unrelenting stand on the kar seva.

Meanwhile, secretariat sources said Mr Joshi had expected the state government would support him in his quest and be a partner in his quest to give new life to his fledging political career. His political career in Maharashtra had been a non-starter and he was on a look out for greener pastures and the Naramada seemed to be ripe enough for his tastes. The state government's notice is likely to intensify Mr Joshi's appetite to demonstrate his capability of a show of strength.