The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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RJD snakes for Togadia trishuls

Patna, Aug. 6: The Rashtriya Janata Dal plans to welcome Praveen Togadia with snakes when he visits Bihar later this month to distribute trishuls.

RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav had organised a lathi rally in Patna in end-April to counter the VHP international general secretary’s trishul diksha programme. But the RJD has now gone a step further and set up a welcome committee for Togadia, who visits the state capital on August 15.

The panel will be headed by Subhas Yadav, brother of chief minister Rabri Devi. “The moment he lands in Bihar, the VHP leader will have to encounter Laloo Prasad’s men greeting him with snakes,” Subhas said.

Togadia is expected to attend two meetings — one in Patna on August 15 and another in Muzaffarpur the next day. The second meeting is for district-level VHP workers, parishad leaders here said.

Explaining the use of snakes, Subhas said: “Shiv not only wields a trishul, but also wraps a snake round his neck. When Togadia claims to be a Shiv bhakt, why does he not have more than a trishul' He may not have many supporters to get them and so we will get the snakes for him.”

RJD general secretary Ramkirpal Yadav is excited at the idea of supplying snakes to the VHP general secretary. “When he (Togadia) arrives in Patna, he will have to be a snake charmer to wriggle out of the snakes,” he said.

RJD workers said village snake charmers belonging to the Bind caste known as Sapera have been called in from all over Bihar. “The saperas will not let loose the snakes on Togadia — that would be cruel. They will mob Togadia and offer snakes,” a party worker said.

RJD workers will keep a watch on the airport and railway station ahead of the VHP leader’s arrival.

Like the Left in Bengal, Laloo Prasad wants to reinforce his tough secular image by showing that rabble-rousing fundamentalists like Togadia will find the going tough in Bihar.

But the state VHP is unperturbed. “We are not surprised by the RJD’s strange stand vis-a-vis Togadia,” Radha Mohan, regional organisation secretary of Bihar (south), said.

He added that the RJD had earlier stopped Togadia from entering the state. “However, at least they have now decided to let Togadia in and not stop him here like L.K. Advani had been stopped in 1990,” Mohan said.

State VHP workers who are preparing to greet Togadia said his trishul was powerful enough to scare away all the snakes and the move might backfire against the RJD. They added that RJD leaders might find themselves inside snake pits.

But VHP sources said Togadia may find it difficult to launch his trishul diksha since the parishad will find it tough to mobilise enough Bajrangis in the state. This is because of the RJD’s alleged intimidation of Bajrangis.

Sources said the VHP had planned to rope in 1,000 Bajrangis for the diksha, but have fallen far short of the target.

“We are hoping to increase the number in the next few days,” Ratan Sharma, a VHP worker from Muzaffarpur, said.

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