The ongoing debate on Conversion vs reconversion ( the so called “ Gharwapsi” ) has heated up the political temeprature of country and put RSS and its disciple Narendra Modi in a eyeball to eyeball situation where both can not sustain their position for a long and it would be interesting to watch who blinks first?
Before reaching to any conclusion or drawing the climex picture of this drama it would be more practical to have a look into the background of this power tussle.
On the surface it seems like a power struggle between RSS and Narendra Modi but in actual it is a cold war between Narendra Modi and his old time ideological Guru and former Hindu Hriday Samrat VHP president Praveen Togadia who has to lost his image of Hindu Gladiator to his disciple and old associate and now the premier of country Narendra Modi.
Praveen Togadia is a leader in Hindu ideological family who has changed the whole dynamics and flavor of “ Hindutva” politics and ideology since he became General secretary of vishwa Hindu Parishad in late 90’s. Praveen Togadia was a known figure in Gujarat for Hindutva brigade but in the period of 90’s during temple movement he was limited to the state of Gujarat only and was not among the national Hindu leaders who made headlines during this period as L K Advani, Ashok Singhal, Vinay Katiyar , Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh. Even in the demolition of Babri Mosque on 6th December 1992 he was never mentioned . Praveen Togadia made headlines first time during the Godhra cranage and its aftermath communal riots. Praveen Togadia become sensational Hindu leaders for media and particularly electronic media which was mostly unknown for Hindu leaders and most of them were not exposed to this medium of media . Praveen Togadia exploited the electronic media and its wide reach with his new kind of uncompromising hardline Hindutva statements catering the audience which always liked to see Bal Thakraey brand of Hindutva on TV screens.
Praveen Togadia was different from typical RSS pracharak attitude and he never shy away from using the media to sensationalise his statements to become headlines . He was also different from typical RSS line in taking responsibilities for violent Hindutva acts without being caught in legal tangles. Neither he disowned his involvement in Gujarat riots and nor he owned it to be caught in legal trap.
Since 2002 Gujrat riots happened it not only changed the dynamics of Indian politics but also changed the internal dynamics of RSS extended family. Praveen Togadia changed the role and reach of Vishwa Hindu Parishad among Hindu society and an organisation which was meant to rehabiliate old retired RSS pracharaks and grow as a charitable religious organisation to work as ritualistic priestly group he took it to new dimensions to infuse politics into it and aspires to create a Hindu vote bank on his own .
After Gujarat riots when state elections happened Praveen Togadia did more political rallies in comaprison to BJP leaders and his startegy of extreme polarisation worked and he along with Narendra Modi shaken entire BJP and RSS leadership who were so worried with media reports after state elections who more often called it the new wave of “ Modi Togadia brand of politics” .
It was more often said that since Modi consolidated his postion in state government in Gujarat once he relected in 2007 he done everything to keep Togadia away from state politics and he lost his say in state politics but in my opinion it is more generic assesment. Praveen Togadia since long time desire strong goals and ambitions to create his own Hindu vote bank based on religious symbolism and theory of Hindu persecution and to use this vote bank and support in Indian soil to become voice of Hindus in the whole world.
Those who know Praveen Togadia from the very close realise that although he has imposed a hotheaded rouge Hindu leader image on himself but he is the most intelligent, open minded and well read person in his personal capacity with a exposure of internatioanal politics and theology.
He has the shrewd knowledge and insight of internatioal political situation and he has realised that across the world the surge of far right political force is inevitable and Islamophobia is on the rise .
2014 is the year when Vishwa Hindu Parishad is celebrating its golden jubille year as 50 years ago in 1964 Vishwa Hindu Parishad was formed to get connected with Hindus who were living abroad and connecting Hindus inside country as well.
Praveen Togadia want to use this opportunity to rech out to his Hindu constituency across the country and Hindus abroad as well the latest example is the congregation of of Hindus living abroad in the name of “ World Hindu Congress”. In this event VHP decalared that in last 800 hundered years it is first time when a Hindu leader is occupying the top post in Delhi. It has put Narendra Modi in difficult position because his poularity in the world depends mostly on the support of indians living abroad who are not averse to the agenda of VHP .
RSS is the fountainhead of Hindu right politics in country and for its chief Mohan Bhagwat individuals does not matter more than their agenda of “ Hindu Rashtra” and Praveen Togadia who has successfully fought to the previous BJP government of Atal Biharee Vajpee and forced both of the seniors Atal and Advani to get retire untimely to pave the way for more hard Hindutva leaders has shown his consistency and commitment towards the cherished goal of “ Hindu Rashtra” with more loyalty in the eyes of Mohan Bhagwat .
It does not mean that Praveen Togadia and Mohan Bhagwat are so honest in their goal and they are not playing politics either. The manner in which Mohan Bhagwat and Praveen Togadia spoke in the Kolkata rally and waved their hands to the public it was a departure path from the conventional tradition of low profile subdued display of political ambition in public. In that public rally Mohan Bhagwat set the tone and redlines for Nanrendra Modi and later Togadia endorsed those views by declaring that his words are gospel truth for us.
Mohan Bhgwat has openly dared Modi to be ready for more confrontation from their side in near future. Last year RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was forced to abide by the popular demand of the country to endorse Narendra Modi as prime Ministerial candidate for BJP but he was not the favorite choice for him for his track record of undermining organisation and making his own constituency beyond the reach of organisation. Praveen Togadia and his RSS chief does not want this situation to happen at centre and even before this situation arise they want to send the message to cadre and Modi himself that ultimately who is the boss.
Praveen Togadia is not ready to be a subdued player this time and neither he is ready to be limited to the role as a value inhancer for BJP and Modi, he want to be listen this time with his footprints .
It is not a coincidnce that the whole issue of conversion and “ Ghar wapsi” has been invoked in the winter session of parliament where key legislations for economic reforms were due and the progress on these reforms would have given Narendra Modi more leverage when president of USA would be visiting India on republic day. Mohan Bhagwat and Praveen Togadia knows very well the meaning of their statements and its repercussions but still they are insisting with their views what could we read between the lines . Mohan Bhagwat and Praveen Togadia were testing the water and they have realised that this is the time to go for kill. The donors of RSS and VHP mostly come from traditional trader community from India and medium enterprises who are averse to economic reform and FDI in few areas and they always feel insecure with growht of MNC’s in India and right from 90’s since economic reforms begins in the era of Narsimha Rao they have sided with RSS and its affiliates the whole concpet of “ Swadeshi” was concepatulised in that period of Rao when RSS and its affiliates aggressively pushed for swadeshi . Since then the whole concpet of “ Swadeshi” has swung to left with Anti American tilt .
In this whole debate of Conversion this economic angle can not be overlooked as most of the people from RSS and VHP believes that USA and other western countries are overtly or covertly supporting the cause of prosletysation of Christian missionaries in India. After Gujarat riots when USA state department decided to deny the visa for Narendra Modi from Visiting his country on the ground of Human rights violations it was mostly believed in India among Hindu organisations that it was all had been done in the pressure of evangelical lobby in USA.
Now lot of water has been flown in Ganges since Nanrendra Modi has took over as prime Minister of India and he is trying to repackage himself inside the country and abroad but it seems his journey and riding for governance is not so smooth.
Narendra Modi want to reinvent himself but RSS and VHP let him not allow to ride the path of modernity and liberalism without confronting his ideological baggase. It would be really interesting to watch who blinks first Modi or RSS?