The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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VHP wind in Modi’s poll sails
- Reluctant cousin agrees to root for Gujarat CM

New Delhi, Nov. 30: The BJP has pulled off a coup days before the Gujarat elections by getting the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to announce its support for the party’s campaign.

VHP chief Ashok Singhal today said the outfit did not want the “model state” to fall into the hands of a party run by a “Christian foreigner” — a reference to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

In 2002, Narendra Modi had swept to victory riding the Sangh parivar’s hate campaign in the backdrop of the communal riots. But this time, the RSS and the rest of the parivar distanced themselves from the polls unhappy with Modi’s functioning.

Today, Singhal was back to doing what he does best: whipping up communal passion.

“The Gujarat model is the best way to fight terrorism. We saw the ugliest face of terrorism in Godhra. But the ruler there showed toughness. That’s the way to fight terrorism, not the Sonia model in which even Afzal Guru (in the Parliament attack case) is not hanged,” he said, brazenly defending the 2002 riots.

Aware that winning an election without the Sangh’s cadres might not be easy, the top BJP leadership held several meetings with RSS leaders to turn them around.

Singhal today said it was a myth that Hindu outfits would oppose the BJP in Gujarat and allow power to slip into the hands of a “foreigner”. “The BJP is the symbol of Hindu forces,” he said.

He refused to answer questions about the Sangh’s initial reluctance to back Modi and VHP leader Praveen Togadia’s opposition to the chief minister.

But he revealed that Togadia, along with Giriraj Kishore and 35 other members, was present at the VHP standing committee meeting that decided to support Modi.

It is unlikely the VHP would have changed its stand without the RSS’s clearance.

“The foreigner has just tried to consolidate her position by making her son (Rahul) the general secretary of the party. With this, the Congress has completely gone into foreign hands,” Singhal said.

The VHP leader also announced a rally at Delhi’s Boat Club where, he said, “30 lakh people” would gather in support of Ram Setu on December 30.

Such claims are part of the VHP’s political culture, but the message being sent is that the Sangh does not believe Gujarat can be won on Modi’s development plank and that as in 2002, it will again try to polarise voters along religious lines. Such a split would help the BJP.

So, Singhal repeatedly peddled the “Gujarat model” as the answer for terrorism, making one inflammatory comment after another.

To a question if the Sangh wanted the politics of murder and rape, he said: “We don’t want murder. But we certainly want to strike fear into… those who support terrorism.”

Singhal favoured Uma Bharti’s return to the BJP ahead of the Gujarat polls to avoid a split in “Hindu” votes. “Naturally, we want her to be back in the BJP.”

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