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OPINION | The Fall and Fall of Pravin Togadia in Narendra Modi's Gujarat

VVP Sharma @vvemuri

Updated: January 17, 2018, 2:18 PM IST
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OPINION | The Fall and Fall of Pravin Togadia in Narendra Modi's Gujarat
VHP international working president Pravin Togadia during a press conference at Chandramani Hospital in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. (PTI)
There was a time when the then chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, was the only person with Z+ security cover in the state. In September 2002, he shared that cover with another person he knew for decades – Pravin Togadia.

Today, Togadia says his life is in danger. He alleges that Rajasthan and Gujarat police were out to get him as part of a conspiracy. In a media meet in Ahmedabad on Tuesday, Togadia even used the word “encounter”. He was pointing fingers without taking names.

If he really had “credible” information about his impending killing, Togadia curiously was acting funny. By his own admission, he came out of the VHP office – which probably was the safest place to be for him in Ahmedabad! – and told his personal security to return in the morning and left in an auto-rickshaw with a fellow worker. Certainly not the manner in which a would-be victim with super security behaves.

The case, fantastic as it is, gets more curious if one ventures into the realm of coincidences with “encounters”.

Togadia says he was “found” unconscious by someone – what happened to the fellow worker? – in the Kotarpur area on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. Now, Kotarpur is the same area where the infamous Ishrat Jehan encounter occurred.

Togadia says he was taken to the Chandra Mani hospital, nearby. Now, that hospital is exactly the place where senior Gujarat IPS officer PP Pandey got himself admitted in July 2013. Pandey reached the hospital not long after the Supreme Court directed him to appear before the special CBI court in connection with the Ishrat encounter case.

Pandey, as then the joint commissioner of police, Ahmedabad, was heading the crime branch when Ishrat, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in an encounter allegedly with Gujarat Police on the city outskirts on June 15, 2004.

Uncanny, isn’t it?

There is literally nothing left in Gujarat that Togadia may call his own. His support base has dwindled. His cadres have disappeared. Nobody listens to his threats against Muslims. In fact, he is chastised by his own Sangh Parivar. The most public chastening was by Narendra Modi himself who, as the Prime Ministerial candidate in 2014, openly cautioned Togadia for his communal utterances.

In fact, in the time since Modi came to Gujarat as chief minister and now, nearly all frontal organisations of the Parivar have been left cadre-less. They all changed their allegiance to Modi. Togadia could only be a mute spectator as his world caved into him.

A far cry from the 1980s, when both Modi and Togadia were friends who used to move together and fight political battles together. Modi moved on, while Togadia remained where he was.

Today, if Togadia thought he would create a panic and stir in Ahmedabad by his press conference alleging an encounter, he thought wrong. That was sufficient proof of his current lack of stature.

At best, it led to personal visits by OBC leader Hardik Patel and Congress leader Arjun Modvadia. Nothing much is expected to come out of such meetings. Whatever clout Togadia still has in Gujarat, it is because of his association with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of which he is the “international working president”. If he joins hands with the likes of Patels and Modvadias, he would be out of the Parivar.
First Published: January 17, 2018, 8:05 AM IST