The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Washing road of tainted touch

Ahmedabad, June 7: Less than two weeks ago, L.K. Advani had inaugurated gaurav path. Today, Vishwa Hindu Parishad workers washed the road to “cleanse it”.

As soon as news came in that the BJP chief had stepped down, jubilant VHP activists gathered on the newly-christened road in Ghatalodia to celebrate. They burst crackers and raised banners denouncing Advani’s “treachery”.

When some BJP workers objected, a minor scuffle broke out, forcing police to arrest more than a dozen VHP activists.

Even after he has resigned, the VHP seems in no mood to forgive Advani for calling Mohammed Ali Jinnah secular. “By tendering his resignation, Advani might have done a great favour to the BJP, not to the Hindu community,” said Dilip Trivedi, general secretary of the outfit’s Gujarat unit.

The VHP has appealed to the people of Gujarat, a state ruled by the BJP, to boycott functions attended by Advani. The organisation’s city unit released a statement that said the entire state is ashamed of the remarks he made in Pakistan. The VHP also said Advani should resign from his Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat.

Shambhu Maharaj Chaitanya, a member of the VHP think tank, went to the extent of threatening a ban on Advani’s entry into Gujarat unless he apologised and took a holy dip in the Sarayu in Ayodhya. “Traitors are not welcome here. He can go to Karachi or anywhere,” he said.

The criticism triggered a counter-attack from the state BJP. “Apart from some places in Ahmedabad and some other parts scattered across the state, no one will listen to the VHP,” said state BJP chief Vaju Vala. “Moreover, they have no existence outside Gujarat at all.”

Reflecting the sharp divide in the parivar, BJP vice-president M. Venkaiah Naidu lashed out at the VHP leadership, particularly international general secretary Praveen Togadia, for calling Advani a “traitor”. “The language used is totally objectionable,” Naidu, flanked by many top leaders, told a news conference in Delhi.

The Sangh, too, has advised Togadia to be careful in the use of language while referring to “eminent leaders” like Advani, sources said.

Togadia, whose criticism was one of the reasons that provoked Advani to step down, welcomed the resignation as “a victory of patriotism over treason”. “Giving a certificate of secularism to Jinnah was treason, and, therefore, Advani has to go. His decision is correct,” Togadia said.

In Madhya Pradesh, another BJP-ruled state, VHP and Bajrang Dal workers celebrated Advani’s resignation. State VHP general secretary Anand Prakash Goel said Advani, by putting in his papers, had “followed the discipline” of the Sangh.

“It is a victory of Ram bhakts and the Hindu community,” he said. “Politicians raising voices against Hindus in India will meet the same fate.”

“Advani’s fall has proven that no person can become larger than the ideology,” Bajrang Dal convener Devendra Singh Rawat said. Dal activists distributed sweets in several localities of Bhopal.

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