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`VHP won't allow BJP to budge from Hindutva'

Pune Dec. 25. Unfazed by the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee's attempts to sober it on the Hindutva issue, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) today asserted that it would not allow the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to budge "even an inch" from the ideology and cautioned that the organisation should not be taken for granted.

"We will not allow the BJP to deviate from the ideology of Hindutva," the VHP International general secretary, Praveen Togadia, told presspersons on the sidelines of a crucial meet of the Sangh Parivar outfit beginning in the city. He said, "On the stand of Hindutva, we will not hesitate to confront even our Bhishma Pitamaha."

Asked whether the `Bhishma Pitamaha' he was referring to was the Prime Minister, Mr. Togadia said, "It is best if this is left for the people to guess. We want to make it clear that we will not be a bonded labourer for any party. We will remain committed to the Hindutva cause and the parties which support our ideology should not budge from Hindutva."

Asked whether prior to the Gujarat elections the VHP felt it was being taken for granted by the BJP, he gave an affirmative reply and said that the Hindutva ideologies of Shyamaprasad Mukherjee and Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay were indeed diluted. "It will be best if the BJP returns to their ideology while the Congress returns to the ideology of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel."

On Mr. Vajpayee's statement that as India was a `Hindu Rashtra', the question of making it a `Hindu Rashtra' as envisioned by the VHP did not arise, Mr. Togadia said, "We are thankful to the Prime Minister for that statement. We take it as full endorsement of the VHP's vision of a `Hindu Rashtra'. The Prime Minister's statement has made our work considerably easier. Our half work is done."

"Now that the Prime Minister has acknowledged that this is a `Hindu Rashtra' it would be good if the others also acknowledge it," he said, adding, "I now want the Congress to spell out their stand on this."

`Pearl Harbour for Hindus'

Likening the Godhra train carnage to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, he said, "The horrifying memories of the Godhra carnage can never be erased from the minds of the Hindus. It will continue to haunt them for years together."

He said "Jehadi intolerance" was responsible for terrorism throughout the world and that Hindu society was its victim.

To a question, he admitted that the VHP was not satisfied by the actions being taken to contain terrorism. "But this is an issue in which it would not be proper to single out any particular party. It was the duty of both the BJP as well as the Congress to stamp out the scourge of terrorism."

Mr. Togadia said the issue of coversions had to be understood in the right perspective. "It results due to social problems. The Church can help the people if it wants, but without destroying our culture through conversions." — PTI