Togadia of VHP in His Own Words
Quotes from a single day in the life of a Hindutva leader
By Neena Vyas
New Delhi Dec. 17. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has warned of a "storm ahead which was not going to be limited to Gujarat'' and indicated clearly that its next target would be five States — Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi — where it is gearing up to spread the "Hindutva" ideology.
Praveen Togadia, VHP secretary-general, told the press here this evening what in his view constituted the important ingredients of Hindutva. "The Muslims here will enjoy the same place or status as Hindus enjoy in Pakistan, maybe even slightly better status,'' he said. And as for Pakistan, the VHP was in favour of "dismembering'' it, reminding everyone that "fundamentalism and extremism cannot be finished till Pakistan is dismembered.''
`Hindutva opponents will get death sentence'
Muslims alone were not the target of his ire. All those who opposed Hindutva, and this certainly included secularists, would get the "death sentence'' he declared. But the VHP would not have to carry out the sentence, the people would. "All Hindutva opponents will get the death sentence and we will leave it to the people to carry this out,'' he said.
"Abhimanyu is not yet dead'', Mr. Togadia said. "The Mahabharat will be fought in Delhi'', he said perhaps talking about the Lok Sabha elections due in 2004.
He spelt out the Hindutva agenda — Ram temple at Ayodhya, anti-conversion law throughout the country, a common civil code, abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution which gives a special status to Jammu and Kashmir, deportation of all Bangladeshi intruders and a statute for cow protection. It was not a coincidence that all of this is part of the well-known and declared agenda of the RSS as well as the BJP. In fact, Mr. Togadia patted the BJP. "In Gujarat, the BJP has come back to its own agenda, the Gujarat election has shown the right direction to the BJP.''
Prior to 1989, the BJP itself was a "political untouchable," but that was not the case now, the coalition National Democratic Alliance Government was proof of this. However, even after the NDA took birth the BJP's Hindutva agenda remained "untouchable". Mr. Togadia and the VHP would set that right. It had already been set right in Gujarat where "our Hindutva agenda has become touchable (acceptable),'' he argued.
Gujarat had, in fact, "finished the credibility of the secularists''. They had described the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, as `khalnayak' (villain) but the people saw him as a hero. Those who had said that the VHP belonged to the `lunatic fringe' were wrong. "I have moved centre-stage, and they (secularists) have become the impotent fringe.''
He had addressed 60 meetings during the election campaign, and he need not remind Mr. Modi what the VHP expected of him. "He knows it well, he will not forget.''
The Hindu, December 18, 2002