international working president, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) — that things are in a churn in the larger Sangh Parivar and that they will be settled in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi sooner rather than later.
Dr. Togadia, for long the stormy petrel of the VHP and with long-time differences with Mr. Modi, accused the Gujarat government of intending bodily harm to him. He said this at a press conference a day after a team of policemen from Rajasthan arrived in Ahmedabad to serve him a warrant in an old case, but found that he had disappeared from the VHP office without his “Z-plus” security detail.
On the face of it, Dr. Togadia’s accusations and the silence of the larger Sangh Parivar on the issue was par for the course in RSS circles, but this time there is a crucial difference.
“The RSS leadership has, for long, performed a balancing act between the political compulsions of the BJP and the rather more ideologically outspoken elements in its ranks. But this time, it may not be the same,” said Pralay Kanungo, author of the book RSS’s tryst with Politics: From Hedgewar to Sudarshan.
“Right now, that balance is weighing in favour of Prime Minister Modi, who as a pracharak, has a far higher level of comfort with the RSS than what the former Prime Minister [Atal Bihari] Vajpayee had. Under Prime Minister Modi, with the single-party majority he has earned, the RSS finds that it is on the cusp of a historic opportunity to implement its agenda. In that situation, Dr. Togadia’s attack on the Gujarat government and his well-known differences with Prime Minister Modi may not be looked at with much sympathy in the RSS.”
Dr. Togadia’s visitor list in hospital after his much-publicised disappearance and reappearance included Patidar leader Hardik Patel and Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia, adding fuel to the fire as it came soon after the BJP’s close shave in the Gujarat polls.
“The most important indication that something is going to break soon is the fact that elections to the post of international president were closely contested between the pro-Togadia camp that supported current international president Raghava Reddy and the others [detractors of Dr. Togadia] who supported former Himachal Pradesh Governor Justice [Vishnu Sadashiv] Kokje. The Togadia camp won. What is significant is that the international president nominates the working president [in this case Dr. Togadia],” said a senior BJP leader in the thick of things.
All this points to a reckoning, sooner rather than later. “The Sangh Parivar is a monolith of organisations at one end but also loosely held affiliations, where a variation of ideological zeal exists. As long as that variation is not harming the larger goals of the Parivar, the reins are loosely held. Such open hostility to a government that is the closest to the RSS and has got to implementing its agenda is not being taken lightly. A meeting of the VHP is scheduled in February and we may see fireworks then,” a senior source said.
“Till Ashok Singhalji [former chief of the VHP] was there, he used to smooth things over between the VHP and the BJP leadership. He had equal standing with Dr. Togadia and Prime Minister Modi who he unstintingly supported, his commitment to the building of a Ram temple in Ayodhya was also never questioned. His death in 2015 has left a void, and the Sangh Parivar is feeling it,” the source said.