The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tantrum twins back in form

New Delhi, May 4: VHP leader Praveen Togadia and Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray today criticised the Prime Minister’s offer to hold low-level talks with Pakistan.

Thackeray urged Atal Bihari Vajpayee not to “hand over Kashmir to our neighbour for the sake of friendship” in party mouthpiece Saamna. “Why the haste in extending a hand of friendship towards Pakistan when the infiltration and terrorism it sponsors is continuing unabated'” he asked.

In a similar vein, speaking at a trishul diksha rally in east Delhi, Togadia said: “We want to send missiles, not a bus to Lahore. We would rather send tanks to Rawalpindi and fly the bhagwadhwaj (saffron flag) in Islamabad. Ninety per cent of Hindus in India are against any kind of an understanding with Pakistan.”

Even the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, known for its hawkish views on Pakistan, had not criticised Vajpayee for his conciliatory gesture towards Islamabad.

At the RSS-BJP conclave that ended yesterday, it had been decided that the Sangh parivar outfits should not talk in different voices. But today’s outburst showed that Togadia was not willing to be bound by such dictates.

Despite being jailed recently by the Rajasthan government for distributing trishuls, Togadia today gave out tridents once again, this time to VHP activists in the capital. He clarified that the trishul diksha was not aimed at fetching electoral dividends.

The VHP leader criticised Muslims and demanded a Hindu rashtra. Togadia also took potshots at the Prime Minister, saying none of his warnings to Islamabad had had any effect. Jihadi terrorism would not end unless Pakistan is destroyed, he asserted.

Although the rally was held in the VHP stronghold of east Delhi, it failed to draw in the expected crowds. But the audience still lapped up Togadia’s outburst. “Why should Indians from Kashmir to Kanyakumari suffer'” asked the VHP leader. “The Pakistanis should suffer…,” he added.

In Mumbai, Thackeray said Vajpayee’s move to consider resumption of air links and cricketing ties after one telephone call from his Pakistani counterpart, Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, was “perplexing”.

Slamming Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, the Sena chief said: “Now Musharraf is playing politics through Jamali. He is mooting talks with India in order not to offend USA, but he is continuing with his proxy war.”

Thackeray said Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir had not changed, cross-border infiltration was continuing and the Inter-Services Intelligence’s activities in India had not stopped. “Why this farce of friendly ties then'” the Sena chief asked.

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