Joshimath, Sept. 14: Uttaranchal chief minister .D. Tiwari has drawn the ire of his party by appearing to defy the Congress and its leader Sonia Gandhi in being friendly and hospitable to VHP leaders.
He allowed Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Praveen Togadia to enter the hill state and address public meetings “to spread the poison of communalism”, state Congress general secretary Dhirendra Pratap said.
Several party workers with black flags silently opposed Togadia’s reported attempt to incite communal hatred at a public meeting in Rishikesh on September 2. They were beaten up by the VHP leader’s supporters and police and slapped with criminal cases.
After visiting the wounded party workers in hospital, Pratap said Tiwari should apologise to them.
The leaders’ and officials’ “crime” in allowing Togadia entry would not be forgiven, he said yesterday in Dhumakot, near Pauri.
According to Pratap, Togadia had come to the state to disturb peace, distribute trishuls, create a climate of violence and make rude remarks about Sonia and succeeded in doing so in Rishikesh.
State Congress leaders, including Vijaya Bahuguna, said it was a shame that Tiwari had refused to prohibit Togadia’s entry when chief ministers of other parties — such as Bihar’s Rabri Devi, Uttar Pradesh’s Mulayam Singh Yadav and their own party’s Ashok Gehlot of Rajasthan — had the courage to do so in their states. Bahuguna is the deputy chairman of the state planning board.
Uttaranchal Congress chief H.C. Rawat, an MP, had directed his party workers to call a bandh or a strike in Rishikesh and picket the offices of the head of its civil administration.
Later, party leaders went to Delhi in a delegation to complain to Sonia about Tiwari “rolling out the red carpet” for Togadia, and earlier calling on the VHP president Ashok Singhal when he fell a little ill during a Dehra Dun visit.
Recently, the delegation complained, Tiwari had also shown great warmth towards Nationalist Congress Party leader P.A. Sangma when he came to Dehra Dun.
Sangma had said Sonia could never be a candidate for Prime Minister because of her foreign birth.
The Congress chief is believed to have expressed her displeasure over all of Tiwari’s actions. It was then said she was going to summon him to Delhi.