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Trouble in Hindutva paradise?

April 26, 2014 11:39 IST

Trouble in Hindutva paradise?

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Aditi Phadnis

A section of VHP is looking at the growing NaMo fever with increasing disfavour and could prove a spoiler for the Gujarat chief minister. Aditi Phadnis reports

Oh no, not again," Narendra Modi must have thought when the news reached him that his purported well-wisher Pravin Togadia had travelled to Bhavnagar and harassed a Muslim family living there, asking them to vacate their home -- right in the middle of a Hindu settlement -- in 48 hours.

After being in the wilderness in Gujarat for years, Togadia must have thought that this was a good opportunity to set up his own little tea shop in the land of tea sellers.

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Modi had turfed him out earlier when he tried to organise a programme of conscientising Hindus by urging them to carry as a mark of identity, a small trishul.

Togadia called it "trishul deeksha".

When Modi told him to stop bothering him and go and carry out his programmes somewhere else, Togadia arrived just across the border in Rajasthan and thundered: "is there anyone who can dare to arrest me?" (hai koi mai ke lal jo mujhe jail mein band kar sake?).

Ashok Gehlot, who was chief minister at the time, decided he was exactly one such "mai ka lal" and Togadia found himself behind bars. 

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Aditi Phadnis

After exactly a day and half, he was on the phone pleading with friends (who shall remain nameless) to get him legal help and somehow get him out of jail.

Accepting the conditions attached to his bail, he got himself out of there as fast as possible. Nothing further was heard of ‘trishul deeksha’ either in Gujarat, or Rajasthan, or indeed anywhere else in the country.

Some of his friends say he is paranoid about jails -- he firmly believes that if he is incarcerated, he will be killed.

Togadia is a colourful personality.

He believes that he is the real Hindu and others are all pretenders. His supporters say that is why they think he should be the chief of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a post currently occupied by Ashok Singhal who has referred to Modi as a "divine being".

Singhal also publicly rejected Togadia's claim that Hindus were not safe in Gujarat.

"I do not agree. There is peace in Gujarat. Hindu and Muslims here coexist peacefully. That is the case under the leadership of Narendra Modi," Singhal said.

Togadia supporters say the VHP (excluding them, of course) has been captured by Modi by offering relatives of the current leadership dispensation, choice contracts in Gujarat.

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Photographs: Praveen Togadia

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Aditi Phadnis

When the slogan ghar ghar Modi; har har Modi was launched recently, a couple of VHP sympathisers went to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to complain that it was unacceptable that Modi should bracket himself with God. 

When the top bosses in the RSS reproved Modi supporters, the slogan was withdrawn. Togadia may have had some role in fomenting this campaign, though this is subject to verification.

And when the new "NaMo restaurant" was inaugurated in Kowloon, Hong Kong by Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Harshvardhan and Vijay Jolly, ostensibly to promote the party's activities in the south-east Asia, VHP sources accepted rather shamefacedly that they hadn't checked from the menu if the restaurant (that its website says serves Thai-Spanish fusion food) serves beef and pork.

But they said, given the current leadership of the VHP, they would suspend judgement. They count as their victory, the insertion in the BJP manifesto that "necessary legal framework will be created to protect the cow and its progeny".

The short point that is sought to be made in a rather meandering way is that there's already trouble in paradise.

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Photographs: Praveen Togadia

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Aditi Phadnis

Modi is yet to visit the RamTemple and Ayodhya, although he is called Hindu hriday samrat.

Villagers in Bhagwanpur village in Kaushambi, near Allahabad, have installed a deity in a temple with a strong Modi likeness and have begun to address him as "Swami" Narendra Modi.

The old Shiva temple where Modi's statue is installed is now called "NaMo NaMo Mandir".

The "devotees" offer daily prayers to the deity and also recite a "Modi chalisa" besides lighting a lamp (akhand jyoti), which they say will be kept lit for 125 days to pray that Modi becomes the prime minister.

A section of the VHP is watching all this with increasing disfavour.

There is no reaction whatsoever from the Gujarat chief minister, though he did say, a day before filing his nomination from Varanasi: "God chooses certain people to do the difficult work. I believe god has chosen me for this work. Now I only need your blessings."

All things have an equal and opposite reaction.

We are expecting a reaction to a Modi-led BJP from expected quarters, a Congress itself unable to think beyond attacks on husbands and brothers. Could it be that we're looking in the wrong direction? Could the reaction come from within the Hindutva family?


Photographs: Praveen Togadia

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