The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Barred VHP brushes aside Vajpayee

Ahmedabad, Nov. 16: Breathing fire and refusing to blink even after being barred from entering Godhra, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad today said it was ready to face the consequences for taking out its rally tomorrow but no power can make it swerve off its course.

“The VHP’s programme is unchangeable. Neither the chief election commissioner nor the Prime Minister can force us to change it. It is our firm resolve and we saints are ready to face the consequences,” VHP leader Acharya Dharmendra declared.

The acharya, along with VHP international general secretary Praveen Togadia, is scheduled to lead the Vijay Yatra from Godhra tomorrow. Panchmahal district collector Manoj Agarwal today shut the two out of Godhra after the VHP decided to flout the Election Commission’s ban on the march and Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s appeal yesterday to abide by the order.

Speaking to newsmen after a meeting of the darshak mandal, the acharya lambasted the Prime Minister, accusing him of allegedly hurting “the sentiments of the Hindus, whose trust he had lost”.

“We do not trust the Prime Minister because he does not trust us,” the acharya said, quickly adding that the VHP, however, had no differences with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. “We are part of a family,” he said.

Next, the acharya gunned for J. M. Lyngdoh, alleging that the chief election commissioner had usurped the powers of the state government and was dancing to the tune of the Vatican.

He accused Lyngdoh of misleading the people, saying the Gujarat government had never said that the rally would spark tension. “It is all imaginary apprehension. His questionable act creates suspicion in the minds of the people about his neutrality and impartiality as the chief election commissioner of the world’s largest democracy,” he said.

As the acharya continued his tirade, Godhra turned into a virtual fortress with a three-layered security ring being put in place — around the town, the district and the Science College grounds where the VHP has rigged up a stage for Sunday’s meeting.

One company of the Rapid Action Force, eight companies of the State Reserve Police and 700 policemen have been deployed. Reinforcements from adjoining districts have also been sent for. Some preventive arrests have been made.

Apprehending that VHP leaders would be taken into custody, the acharya said he would blame Lyngdoh but absolve chief minister Narendra Modi in case there is a clampdown tomorrow.

“It is the CEC who is playing the role of constitutional blackmailer and is ruling the state with the blessings of the Prime Minister,” he said. “Neither Lyngdoh nor Vajpayee has any business to dictate us — we are not accountable to them.”

Tomorrow morning, VHP activists and sadhus will march from Ahmedabad to Godhra after performing a puja at the Somnath temple in the Bapunagar area of the walled city.

Inspector general M.K. Tandon, who is in charge of the security bandobast, said he had instructed Science College authorities to dismantle the stage. But nothing was done till late in the evening.

“We will not allow the VHP workers to enter Godhra town,” Tandon said. Additional district collector B.N. Damor said any VHP worker trying to enter the town would be arrested.

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