BJP govt with VHP as challenger: Is this Sangh Parivar's new gameplan?
It is well known that there is no love lost between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Vishwa Hindu Parishad International Working President Pravin Togadia.
But Togadia's latest allegation against the Modi regime may surprise many. He has shot off an angry letter to the Director, Intelligence Bureau alleging that sleuths are snooping on the VHP and its activities. He event went to the extent of equating the situation with the Emergency, a charge that is normally made against Modi by Opposition parries.
He has accused the IB of harassing volunteers involved in two VHP initiatives – Hindu Helpline and India Health Line. Togadia alleges that this is part of a “master design” to “harass a nationalist organisation”.
He has marked copies of the letter to PM Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh as well. Togadia
“We are saddened and shocked to hear and see IB officers questioning volunteers and making them give details of how the helplines operate and who are the people associated,” Togadia said in the letter.
He said the questioning began last week. The places where the VHP volunteers were questioned point towards an interesting pattern – Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Faridabad and Kurukshetra in Harayana, Jaipur in Rajasthan and Dehradun in Uttarakhand. All these happen to be states where the BJP is in power.
It has often been noticed that in BJP-ruled states, other Hindutva outfits emerge as an opposition. The earliest manifestation of this was in Modi-ruled Gujarat where the VHP and BJP were often at loggerheads. Though Modi used the VHP-fuelled Hindutva wave to come to power in the state in 2002, he subsequently worked to marginalise the outfit. In 2001, Togadia got his right hand man Gordhan Zadaphia, appointed as Minister of State for Home in Gujarat – a critical position especially during the 2002 riots. But Togadia and Modi subsequently fell out and Zadaphia was also sidelined. Amit Shah went on the become MoS Home in Gujarat, an important step in his political partnership with Modi.
Some VHP leaders privately blame Modi for reopening cases against VHP activists accused in the 2002 riots. However, this wasn't done at Modi's initiative but under the orders by the Supreme Court.
Even at the local level – in universities and smaller representative bodies in Gujarat – the main opposition to the BJP came from the VHP.
Though the VHP is undoubtedly the most organised, Hindutva outfits in other BJP ruled states have often assumed a adversarial role towards the government.
In Maharashtra, the Devendra Fadnavis government has beend demanding a ban on the radical Hindutva outfit Sanatan Sanstha.
In Madhya Pradesh, the recent farmers' agitation was being spearheaded by a former RSS man Shiv Kumar Sharma, alias Kakkaji. However his outfit, the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh, is not known to be pro-Hindutva.
Keeping with this oppositional approach, Togadia raked up farmer suicides and cross border infiltration from Pakistan to attack the Modi government.
“Almost daily, there has been cross border infiltration from Pakistan and China and IB could be more proactive there and help saving Jawans,” he said.
“But the IB has chosen to question VHP volunteers mentioning some letter by the joint director of IB ordering to do so. This is horrible and resembles the Emergency,” said Togadia demanding an apology from the IB chief and a probe from the Central government.
The two projects whose volunteers were allegedly snooped at are the Hindu Helpline and India Health Line.
Launched in April 2011 with volunteers spread across the country, the ‘Hindu Helpline’ claims to provide services to Hindus like medical, travel including lodging and food, facilitating in availing administrative services, legal and religious.
The India Health Line was launched in February 2014 and is aimed at providing services of specialist doctors to the underprivileged. The VHP claims that thousands of specialists from various fields are associated with the helpline.
Though sensational, Togadia’s rants have failed to evoke any response either from the government or the Centre’s ruling BJP. Some say that it is his way of exerting pressure on the BJP ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections scheduled for later this year.
However within the VHP, Togadia’s latest antics have not gone down well with some sections. A VHP leader, who didn't want to be named, said that he was against the manner in which Togadia is confronting the Modi government.
“Whatever be the case, I don’t think it is wise to directly confront the Centre,” said the leader.
Some of the VHP activists also expressed ignorance about the IB’s action but refused to doubt Togadia’s claims.