Shimla, May 20 (PTI) The BJP today termed as “homecoming” the rejoining of former Himachal Pradesh Assembly Speaker Radha Raman Shashtri to the party after five years.

Shashtri (74) had quit the BJP in 2012 and later joined the NCP.

The septuagenarian leader rejoined the BJP at the party headquarters in the presence of former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, state party chief Satpal Singh Satti, in-charge of state party affairs Mangal Pandey and others.

The “homecoming” of Shashtri is a part of the strategy of the BJP to win back the disgruntled leaders who had quit or were expelled from the party in the past, ahead of the Assembly election.

The party sources said that more leaders, including some MLAs, may also come back into the party fold in the coming days.

Shashtri was elected to the state Assembly for the first time in 1977 as a Janta party candidate from Chopal constituency in this district.

He was reelected as MLA from Chopal as the BJP candidate and was elected Speaker of the state Assembly.

Later, he was inducted in the cabinet headed by Shanta Kumar and served as the education minister.

A scholar of Sanskrit and a writer, Shashtri who contested nine assembly elections, including one from Shimla in 1985, was arrested under Maintenance of Indian Security Act (MISA) during the Emergency in 1975, and remained in Central Jail in Nahan with other senior leaders for 19 months.

He left the BJP in early 2012 after he was allegedly “sidelined” by the party and later joined the NCP ahead of the 2012 assembly polls.

He started his career as a Sanskrit teacher in the state’s education department and served for 8 years. He was selected lecturer (college cadre) but resigned to participate in social and political activities.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.