It’s difficult to decrypt what exactly went wrong with Pravin Togadia, the International Working President of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP). Togadia was among those Sangh leaders who had vehemently opposed Modi’s elevation as PM pick. Given his long-standing rivalry with Modi, Togadia had conveyed to Bhagwat that the Sangh was making a ‘big’ mistake in pushing for Modi as he would eventually turn against them. Togadia’s stand against Modi was seen as a reflection of the division in the VHP with one section led by Ashok Singhal backing Modi and the other opposed to him. Subsequently, the RSS decided to back Modi and made it clear to Togadia that he would have to ‘abide’ by its decision. Nevertheless, no one actually bothered about the ranting from Togadia and Narendra Modi successfully became the Prime Minister of India.
The rift between Togadia and Modi continued with verbal attacks, but Modi gradually managed to shrivel Togadia’s size. Following Togadia’s sudden disappearance on Monday, the political circles were abuzz with talks of his strained relationship with PM Narendra Modi over the past 15 years. Not very long ago, Modi and Togadia were thick friends and used to travel together on scooter, visiting RSS cadres. They were the one who successfully executed rallies during Babri Mosque demolition. However, after Modi became the CM in 2002, their relationship soured. Some VHP leaders believe that the developments taking place against Togadia in the past one month were politically motivated and a conspiracy to “put him in place”.
Both RSS and BJP want VHP to be free of Togadia so that they can launch new programmes under Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). But Togadia has been putting up stiff resistance as a result of which old cases against him are being actively pursued. Togadia’s term as International Working President was to end on December 31, 2017 along with the term of President Raghava Reddy. Before any decision taken, Togadia went missing and rumours were making headlines. Day after he reappeared from his brief disappearance, Togadia expressed that he may be killed. As he was found unconscious in a hospital in Ahmedabad after being reported missing in the day earlier.
Earlier this year, Modi had turned down a VHP invitation to share stage with its leaders including Togadia during the Kumbh Mela. Aides close to Modi had then maintained that he did not want his development agenda to be hijacked by his participation in the gathering of hardliners. The rivalry between Togadia and Modi became more pronounced after the 2002 riots. As Modi sought to move away from the stigma of the 2002 riots, Togadia saw that the Gujarat chief minister is keen to save himself from the campaign, leaving the VHP leaders in trouble. In the state polls held in 2007, Modi showed that he could do well without VHP elements. In 2008, Modi got VHP members arrested in Gujarat because they were opposing the demolition of temples when roads in Gandhinagar were being widened.
The bad blood between BJP’s PM pick Narendra Modi and VHP President Pravin Togadia is boiling over. Togadia’s reportedly anti-Muslim comments raised eyebrows in saffron circles, causing some leaders to wonder whether Hindutva hardliners were ‘deliberately’ trying to throw a spanner in party’s campaign and upset Modi, who was “painstakingly” trying to convey to voters that the party had moved onto a positive agenda. The BJP poll strategists were also worried that the row has reinforced the views of Modi critics that the ugly side of Hindutva will come back with a bang if he becomes PM. As Togadia’s remarks went viral, Modi was very upset. RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat and other Sangh bigwigs too were displeased as Togadia had been advised to avoid such controversies.
A section of VHP functionaries are at a loss to explain what prompted Togadia to make this claim. Senior Gujarat BJP leaders have already expressed disdain over this rhetoric, which has failed to arouse any passion even among Sangh Parivar believers and has instead only increased anxieties in the state’s Muslim community. More than anyone else, Togadia himself should be acutely aware that the VHP’s cadre base has shrunk and Togadia is struggling hard to stay afloat in the state.
In the 2012 assembly elections, those who travelled across Gujarat noted that a substantial segment of the VHP had pitted itself against Narendra Modi and the BJP. Over three months, the outfit’s leaders and workers sweated it out to damage Modi and boost whatever negligible prospects Keshubhai Patel and Gordhan Zadafia’s Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) had against the BJP strongman. They knew that it was not possible for the Congress and the GPP to defeat Modi, so the purpose was to portray Modi as leading a divided Parivar in Gujarat and somehow reduce his victory margin in terms of seats won. The idea was to scuttle his national ambitions. To the VHP’s dismay however, the outfit’s campaign against Modi ended up helping him correct his image outside Gujarat and even with some segments of the minorities.
In the elections, it won him support from a large number of people for whom good governance and the availability of basic amenities was far more important than the worn out rhetoric of the VHP. A number of VHP activists figured in around 200 pronounced convictions in post-Godhra riot cases. More importantly, former minister Maya Kodnani’s conviction gave people a feeling that justice finally prevailed, even if it may not have brought complete closure to those directly affected.
Togadia’s conflict with Modi is both political and personal. In the 2007 assembly election, Togadia was forced to stay out of Gujarat. On the other hand, despite his image as a hardliner, Modi has never flaunted his Hindutva credentials — in fact, it is inbuilt in his persona. But after the 2002 elections, he has consciously cultivated the image of a strong development-oriented administrator. The rise of Togadia in the pre-2002 period was Modi’s loss. But after 2002, it has been the reverse. Modi’s stakes are much higher now. VHP supporters who used to flaunt their connections with the state government and used to offer their services to investors in Gujarat for a small fee, found them cut out of all government deals. This had Togadia railing against Modi but powerless to do anything about him. This disappearance can be new a tool to gain some publicity or further damage BJP and Modi’s image as Rajasthan is a BJP ruled state. Hatemonger Togadia this time also failed to act on his drama script, now big question is that what can be the political conspiracy? Who wants to eliminate Togadia and why he cries before media but possibly too scared to name anyone? This is when his own people are in power at the Centre, Gujarat and Rajasthan and he enjoys Z security.
Who wants to kill him? Who is he scared of?
What is this prank all about??
(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on [email protected])