The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Backstage player Togadia names Gujarat price

New Delhi, Dec. 17: The BJP’s brief to Narendra Modi may be to focus on governance in his second stint as chief minister. But the Vishwa Hindu Parishad — whose contribution to the Gujarat victory was tacitly acknowledged by BJP leaders — has declared that it would not allow the new regime to deviate from Hindutva.

VHP international general secretary Praveen Togadia today repeatedly stressed on his outfit’s contribution to Modi’s thumping victory. “Our commitment is not to the NDA but to Hindutva,” he told reporters here.

“In the elections, I alone addressed 60 public meetings of the 200 addressed by the VHP. Every worker of ours sweated it out till the last day. Because the elections were fought on the Hindutva agenda, we will not allow the Gujarat government to deviate from Hindutva.” The VHP leader is a Patel from Amreli in Saurashtra.

Asked about his expectations, Togadia’s cryptic reply was: “Modi and I have a perfect understanding. We have a lot of love for each other, so he knows what to expect from me.” He said his outfit would have no say in ministry-making, though he made it clear that VHP candidates like Haresh Bhatt, who wrested Godhra from the Congress despite being an outsider, won the day.

Togadia said the polls proved that the BJP had returned to the “Jan Sangh era of Shyama Prasad Mookerjee and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya” when ideology was all that mattered. “The VHP cannot dictate terms to any party but we will only support that party which will accept our agenda,” he added.

Togadia, however, indicated that he still had some reservations about the BJP at the Centre. “There is need for both the main political parties (the BJP and the Congress) to change their ideology and composition,” he said.

But as far as Gujarat was concerned, he was all praise for Modi and the way he campaigned. “The Gujarat elections proved that even the BJP’s ideology is no longer untouchable. At least, it forced Sonia Gandhi to start her campaign from Ambaji temple. Even she cannot blame us for touching Hindutva,” he said.

“The elections proved Hindutva-bashing is not profitable. A decade ago, secularists had credibility. But now they have lost their credentials because they called Modi a villain. The people of Gujarat said he is our hero. The secularists’ hero was rejected by them.”

He said the very people who had branded “Togadia as part of the lunatic fringe” now acknowledged that “he has come on the centre stage”.

Spitting venom on the Congress and the “secularists”, Togadia pronounced a death sentence on Hindutva-baiters.“They will be hunted out not by Togadia but by the janta (people) and it is the janta who will give the mrityu dand (death sentence) to those who dare to oppose Hindutva,” he declared.

The VHP leader likened the Congress to the pre-Independent Muslim League and the Laskhar-e-Toiba. “The Congress’ role was exactly like that of the Muslim League. They condemned Godhra but the Gujarat Congress president alleged the VHP was behind the carnage. He spoke the language of the Lashkar-e-Toiba,” which, Togadia said, commits the “terrorist attacks in Kashmir and then puts the blame on the Indian army. The Congress paid a heavy price for this.”

Togadia hedged about his expectations from Modi but he unveiled a wishlist for the Centre. It included speedy resolution of the Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura temple-mosque disputes, enactment of an anti-conversion law, an Ordinance banning cow slaughter, repeal of Article 370, a common civil code, throwing out Bangladeshi “migrants”, a ban on madarsas run by Ahle Adez, Dawatule Islami, and Tableeq Jamaat and making the study of Vedas compulsory in schools.


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