Change in VHP sweet for Sangh

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By RADHIKA RAMASESHAN
  • Published 20.12.11
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New Delhi, Dec. 19: Ashok Singhal has bowed out as Vishwa Hindu Parishad boss, making way for G. Raghava Reddy, the 50-year-old chief treasurer who owns sweet shops in Andhra Pradesh.

Another key change was made in the VHP hierarchy on Sunday. Praveen Togadia, the feisty leader who had hoped to succeed Singhal, was made international working president, a post that sources said was largely ornamental.

Singhal, in his eighties, has been ill and immobile for some time.

According to Sangh sources, RSS sarsanghachalak Mohanrao Bhagwat wanted to bring a “generational change” in the VHP, like he had done in the BJP. So, he picked Raghava Reddy, who has inherited his family’s chain of mithai shops in Hyderabad and other Andhra cities. The chain, set up by Raghava Reddy’s father, goes by the name Pulla Reddy Sweets.

Reddy Senior was a VHP member and closely associated with the Ram temple “movement”.

Raghava Reddy, sources said, was chosen not just because he is relatively young but also because he is believed to be close to Bhagwat. Nitin Gadkari was selected for the same reason as the BJP chief.

Sources said through Raghava Reddy, Bhagwat now hopes to gain control of the VHP. As long as Singhal was around, Bhagwat was hands-off.

Like his predecessor, Raghava Reddy has been designated international president. He was previously the VHP’s chief treasurer.

The sources said Togadia’s bitter ties with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi were factored in when Bhagwat decided to sidestep his claims.

On its part, the Sangh perceives Modi as the most “promising” leader in the current phalanx of the BJP and in its wisdom, decided to keep him on the “right side”, the sources said.

Champat Rai, an RSS pracharak from Uttar Pradesh and a key strategist of the temple “movement”, has been appointed international general secretary. Sources said he was expected to conceptualise and execute the organisation’s blueprints in consultation with the RSS chief.

Dinesh Chandra, also a pracharak and a VHP office-bearer, was expected to get Rai’s job. But he reportedly fell foul of a senior BJP leader after he indicted a protégé of this leader in a probe he was asked to conduct on a corruption charge.

A section of the BJP was supposed to have unleashed a counter campaign against Chandra. He was made the organisational general secretary.