The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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For the BJP, fork is more deadly than Togadia’s trishul

New Delhi, April 21: Next time you order pizza at a neighbourhood joint, ask for a knife and spoon. The fork can be “lethal”.

That is, more lethal than the trishul.

India’s symbol-driven politics lapsed into further quibbling when the BJP, stung by VHP leader Praveen Togadia’s arrest for distributing trishuls, today said forks should be banned by the same logic.

“The fork has four spokes and it is more than four inches in size. You cannot injure anyone with a trishul, but the fork can be used with lethal effect,” said BJP spokesperson Vijay Kumar Malhotra.

His comment — on a day Togadia was granted bail — was a dig at the Rajasthan government’s order banning tridents or carrying of any weapon with more than two spokes.

“There are certain things which are symbolic. You cannot injure anyone with a trishul. A fork has four spokes and is longer than the trident (distributed by the VHP). Will anyone using a fork be arrested'” Malhotra repeated.

Congress governments, while cracking down on tridents, are silent on AK-47s and soft on terrorists, he added.

The BJP leader also lashed out at Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Laloo Prasad Yadav, who has asked party workers to assemble with lathis at a rally in Patna next week.

The former Bihar chief minister — who has hit upon the lathi as a poll symbol — today asked party workers to massage oil on their lathis, which he describes as the pride of the poor in rural Bihar.

Malhotra also alleged that Laloo Prasad was coaching his party workers on how to use the lathi with effect on the “knees” and “knuckles”. The same people, he said, were now attacking the BJP. “There is a need to talk about it. There are some things which are symbolic,” he added.

Laloo Prasad is not the only one, though, who is stretching the “symbolism” element a bit too far. A kshatriya sammelan in Delhi last week distributed over 3,000 swords to fight Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayavati.

BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu also blasted the Congress government in Rajasthan. Such oppressive actions like booking Togadia “for waging war against the state” will have a backlash. His party, he said, would make it a big issue and “take it to the people”.

“We may not agree with Togadia. (But) How can you dub him a deshdrohi (traitor)' At the same time, the Congress is silent on anti-national activities and against using Pota (the Prevention of Terrorism Act) on terrorists,” he added. “They don’t open their mouth when thousands of lathis are distributed by Laloo Yadav in Bihar.”

Earlier, the issue figured in the Lok Sabha leading to heated exchanges between the BJP and the Congress.

BJP MP Rasa Singh Rawat accused the Rajasthan government of interfering with religious rights of Hindus. He said an “emergency-like situation” was sought to be created in Rajasthan and asked the Centre to rein in the state government.

Yogi Adityanath of the BJP charged the Ashok Gehlot government with working against the interests of the Hindu community and demanded an immediate lifting of the ban.

Congress members hit back, saying the BJP was trying to inflame communal passions.

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