VHP leader asks Hindus not to let Muslims buy property

Published April 22, 2014
Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Pravin Togadia. — File photo
Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Pravin Togadia. — File photo

NEW DELHI: The Hindutva bandwagon appeared on Monday to be running out of gas on its “Narendra Modi for development” campaign with party affiliates scurrying to their default position of a communal campaign in the run-up to the next round of polls on Thursday.

Two reports on NDTV, one from Bhavnagar in Gujarat and the other from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, indicated that the Hindutva ploy now was to use the media to trigger and sustain debates centred on identity-based politics rather than on its initial economic growth narrative.

A separate TV channel from the Times of India stable conjured a situation in which the Sikh candidate for the Congress party, Captain Amrinder Singh, was accused of supporting an alleged killer of Sikhs in the Delhi massacre of 1984. The captain, who is fighting the BJP’s and Akali Dal’s joint candidate Arun Jaitley in Amritsar, rubbished the report, but not before a small doubt was successfully created by the TV report.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s bilious leader Pravin Togadia was played up in a report from Bhavnagar where he apparently told Hindus not to allow Muslims to buy properties in their localities. Ghettoisation of Muslims is a fact of life in India’s communally polarised cities and towns. It didn’t make sense for Mr Togadia to make his comment publicly. However, the political benefit of throwing open a divisive discussion regarding the widely shared communal prejudice could be handy before elections in Gujarat.

“We should have it in us to take the law in our own hands in an area where we are a majority and scare them,” Mr Togadia was quoted as saying.

NDTV said Mr Togadia denied making any hate speech, but it did not say whether it believed the denial. “Some people gathered and told me that Muslims are forcibly throwing us out, I asked them to take help of the police. The story is not about Muslims getting thrown out; it is about Muslims forcing Hindus out of their houses,” Mr Togadia was quoted as saying.

There is a pattern in this. A candidate for the BJP had similarly warned critics of Mr Narendra Modi to be prepared to be dispatched to Pakistan after the polls. After the candidate Giriraj Singh had successfully triggered a public agenda to polarise voters on communal lines, his party made a perfunctory critique, or as the headlines would say, the BJP distanced itself from the comment.

“Togadia is not in the BJP. Those who speak without thinking and those who distort words both must be condemned,” was the typical self-righteous response of a BJP leader in Delhi on the Togadia tactics of shepherding the main political focus towards a communal discourse.

Mr Modi’s development-based thrust has been successfully neutralised by rival state leaders who have reeled off statistics to show the edge they had over the Gujarat model. The campaign was led by Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal, who visited Gujarat early in the campaign to expose the sordid face of the development story.

In line with the tactics to to go back to the tested communal agenda of the Hindutva campaign, hate pamphlets have come out in Bhopal, according to NDTV. “Free India of three crore Muslim infiltrators from Bangladesh” and “Free Kashmir of traitors”. These were the topics they touched.

The booklets are being reportedly distributed in a door-to-door campaign in the western part of Madhya Pradesh by workers of the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

The BJP government in the state, headed by the relatively moderate Shivraj Singh Chouhan, has not yet commented on the controversial material.

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