Dharmendra Jore: The face-off continues
Will Pravin Togadia succeed against prime minister Narendra Modi with his wings clipped, or, will it remain a flight of fancy?
The Parivar has been acting in an exemplary manner whenever an individual tried to become larger than the Sangh and its frontal organisations. Dr Pravin Togadia, the ousted international president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has now been added to a very small list of leaders who breached discipline, allegedly for pursuing their personal ambitions.
By easing out a rebel from the VHP, the RSS also seems to have taken itself out from a long-drawn battle between Togadia and prime minister Narendra Modi. Having Togadia part ways with the Parivar, the PM should now be free to deal even strictly with his bete noire. But going by Togadia's resolve, which party insiders say is all set to get tacit support from anti-Modi elements in the BJP and VHP, and other parties that treat the enemy's enemy as a friend, the country's collective Hindutva movement may see an interesting situation coming up ahead of next year's polls.
Dr Togadia quit VHP immediately after his supporter's crushing defeat in a secret ballot on Saturday. He is expected to float his own Hindu outfit that will take a hyper aggressive line and continue to attack the RSS, the BJP, PM Modi and the VHP.
Togadia vs Modi
The Hindu leader, who flourished under the leadership of late Ashok Singhal (former VHP chief), became a cause of concern for the Parivar after Modi's coronation as the PM, because he has been embarrassing the RSS and BJP leadership by making unwarranted statements against the PM and the government's failure in delivering for Hindus despite enjoying absolute power in the Parliament.
Primarily, it has been a long-time battle between the two individuals - Togadia who contributed significantly to the BJP's win through the Ram Temple movement two decades ago, and Modi, who presided over the party's biggest win ever on a development plank in 2014. The fight is expected to continue. While he is being accused of pursuing a personal ambition, Togadia said Saturday that he was saddened to see the VHP was made to bend, not for Hindu well-being but for individual whims and fancies of some powermongers. He said sacrificing the very ideology for which the VHP was founded was betraying Hindus. He blamed one power power-greedy person for splitting VHP and making Hindus unsafe.
Togadia had taken the fight to an unexpected level in January this year when he alleged a murder plot against him in Gujarat. The next month, he made an attempt for rapprochement with Modi by seeking a patch-up in the nation's interest. The appeal went unheard, and two months later Togadia himself quit the organisation where he spent three decades. Now, Togadia plans to spearhead an anti-PM movement from Gujarat where he made friends with Modi, a much junior in the RSS, and broke ties after the latter became the CM. The rebel leader will go on a hunger strike in Ahmedabad from April 17 ahead of making a major announcement.
Along with Modi bashing, Togadia's other intentions are crystal clear. He wants Hindu first for Hindu safety, prosperity and well-being, and to make Bharat Ram Rajya. Since unfulfilled commitment to build a grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya remains a bone of contention between the BJP in power and Hindu hardliners, he wants the community to take the commitment ahead on its own. Does he mean another Babri-like situation? His next announcement should help us understand.
Ram Mandir issue is sub-judice in the apex court which is expected to take a final call in near future. Some Hindu and Muslim leaders are trying for an amicable solution. Several other issues that Hindu hardliners want to resolve immediately, without considering their socio-political ramifications, include a law to ban cow slaughter, to abrogate Articles 370 & 35A in Kashmir, to deport Bangladeshis and Rohingya Muslims. We're told the prospect of a continuous slugfest has enthused many in the BJP who spearheaded the Ram Mandir movement then, and currently have no say in the governments or organisation. Will Togadia succeed against PM Modi with his wings clipped, or, will it remain a flight of fancy? Nobody is sure yet.
Dharmendra Jore is political editor, mid-day. He tweets @dharmendrajore Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org