BHOPAL: Kailash Joshi, one of the tallest leaders in the state and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, who set a benchmark for political sagacity and probity in public life, passed away here on Sunday shortly before noon. He was 90.
Joshi was ailing for some months and was admitted to a private hospital. His death has cast a gloom in the political circles across parties in Madhya Pradesh and in Chhattisgarh, which was part of the undivided state he headed as the Chief Minister from June 1977 to January 1978. Both the states have declared a day's mourning.
The state BJP has now lost two stalwarts in a span of three months after Babulal Gaur, one of Joshi's successors and friends, passed away in August.
Joshi's body will be kept at the state BJP office here for a day for people to pay homage. His family members want to perform the last rites at Hatpipalya in Dewas district on Monday.
Joshi was a founding member of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the previous avatar of the BJP, in 1951.
Joshi was chosen to head the Janata Party government in the state after the Emergency. On June 26, 1977, he was chosen as the Chief Minister against the wishes of the Jana Sangh component of the Janata Party which wanted Virendra Kumar Sakhlecha at the helm of affiars in Madhya Pradesh.
But Joshi's tenure did not last long. He was replaced by Sakhlecha on January 18, 1978. Strangely, it was his own party that wanted him replaced because the extra constitutional elements found him unresponsive to the extraneous demands.
In 1990, when the BJP defeated the Congress to win a simple majority, Joshi was the popular choice among the party legislators. But the party high command overruled the choice and imposed Sunderlal Patwa on the legislative party.
The move was criticised as the BJP was boasting of democratic values in the selection of party leaders. A worldly wise Patwa was chosen over Joshi in the hope that he would run the government and sustain the party financially.
Another major contribution of Joshi was exposing the Churhat Lottery scam and moving the high Court in 1989. The high court indicted the then Chief Minister Arjun Singh and the order caused his ouster after 13 months in power during his second innings.
Joshi was expected to have been made a Governor under the new BJP dispensation. But he was apparently found unsuitable to do the bidding of the new leadership which seemed to have no use for saintly disposition.
In 1955, Joshi was elected President of the Municipality of Hatpipalya for the first time. He went on to become the Jan Sangh MLA from Bagli in Dewas district continuously since 1962.
During the Emergency, Joshi was arrested on July 28, 1975 after which he was kept under arrest for 19 months. Joshi will be remembered for his sacrifices in the jail too. He was injured while fending off a lathi blow on his party colleague Vikram Verma.
He was also elected an MP and raised the issues of Madhya Pradesh in the Parliament. His son Deepak Joshi was a minister in Shivraj Singh Chauhan's government.
Condoling Joshi's death, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath tweeted: "The death of Kailash Joshi, a soft-spoken, simple, easygoing personality is an irreparable loss in the political field. My condolences to the family."
Former Chief Minister and BJP national Vice President Shivraj Singh Chauhan said that with the death of Kailash Joshi, an era came to an end.
"He gave a new direction to the politics of Madhya Pradesh. He was the voice of the poor and the weak. As a humble and soft-spoken politician, he was a role model for most of us young leaders," said Chouhan.
In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Joshi had contributed towards Madhya Pradesh's growth.
"Kailash Joshi was a stalwart who made a strong contribution towards Madhya Pradesh's growth. He worked hard to strengthen Jan Sangh and BJP in Central India. He made a mark as an effective legislator. Pained by his demise. Condolences to his family and supporters. Om Shanti," Modi said.
In a tweet in Hindi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah called Joshi a leader who always strived for public interest.
"Received the sad news of the death of former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Kailash Joshi. He was a leader associated with the ground who always strived for public interest. He played an important role in organisational expansion in MP. I express my condolences to his family," Shah said.
An eloquent orator, Joshi won the hearts of the people with his equanimity. Joshi's unique administrative qualities have been an example for young leaders to follow.
Expressing grief over the death of Joshi, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel tweeted, "I pray to God for the peace of his soul. May God give the bereaved family strength to bear the loss."
Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly, Gopal Bhargava, said, "As founder of the party in the state, Joshi gave it a strong foundation. He was a saint among politicians. I have been constantly receiving his support for four decades. There can be no other person like him in politics. His death is a personal loss for me."
Congress leader K.K. Mishra said the death of Joshi brought to an end an era where politics represented healthy, idealistic character of true values. "Joshi was a symbol of simplicity and renunciation. He represented genuine values in politics," Mishra said.