New title, but still VHP 'showpiece'

New title, but still VHP 'showpiece'

By: || Updated: 30 Dec 2014 03:49 AM
New Delhi: Praveen Togadia has been re-designated as the working president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad at a two-day meeting the organisation held in Hyderabad on Saturday and Sunday.




He held the same post earlier but with the prefix "international" that, in the VHP's power paradigm, implied a "diminished" stature, more as a "showpiece" than a wielder of authority.


Asked if the tweaked title endowed the feisty Togadia with more powers than what he had for the last three years, the VHP veteran told The Telegraph over the phone from Hyderabad: "Not really, because, in the Sangh, we all work together. But the president (G. Raghava Reddy) has limitations because he is a businessman and cannot spare much time for the VHP."


In the hierarchy, Togadia comes second after Reddy, who runs a chain of family-owned retail confectionery outlets in Andhra Pradesh.


Headquartered in Hyderabad, Reddy's father G. Pulla Reddy used to be a VHP patron during the Ram temple era but Reddy junior apparently evinced no interest in the outfit's working.


Togadia, an old adversary of the Prime Minister going back to Narendra Modi's days as Gujarat chief minister, stole his two minutes of fame at the World Hindu Congress the VHP hosted in Delhi last month.


Although he echoed Modi's language of "good governance and development" at the convention, he did state that he would "speak out" against his foe's government at an "appropriate time".


VHP sources had said at the time that Togadia was trying for a "larger role" for himself, one that could "help him evolve as a major power centre that Modi would not ignore".


"No, nothing in the VHP's internal equations has changed," stressed Champat Rai, who was re-nominated as the secretary-general.


Sources said the VHP's original head, Ashok Singhal, who is 88, might now be called an "adviser" but he was the "real power centre". "The RSS realises that he is political, practical and mature. He puts the Sangh's interest above his personal likes and dislikes. There is a government that the Sangh would not wish to destabilise. Individuals may give pinpricks to Modi but even the Sangh doesn't want long-term threats from any of its constituents. Ashokji is its best bet in the circumstances," a source explained.


Instead of Togadia, Singhal - who is regarded as the VHP's principal architect - is grooming Rai and Dinesh Chandra for larger roles. Chandra, who was an RSS " pracharak" (whole-timer) in Uttar Pradesh, was tipped to become a " sahasarakaryavah" (or joint general secretary) of the RSS in April 2014. He was beaten to the post by another Uttar Pradesh pracharak, Krishna Gopal, and then moved to the VHP.


Sources said Singhal was looking at Rai, an old VHP hand, to take the place that his own deputy, the late Acharya Giriraj Kishore, had for years and at Chandra to eventually assume his place.


When Atal Bihari Vajpayee was Prime Minister, the VHP, with the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, became his bugbears. The Manch scuttled his pro-reforms agenda while the VHP breathed down his back to raise a Ram temple on the site of the Babri mosque.In the six months that Modi has been around, the VHP has resurrected itself to an extent on issues like "re-conversions" and "love jihad". The Swadeshi outfit has kept quiet so far.


-The Telegraph, Calcutta


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