MUMBAI: The Shiv Sena on Thursday latched on to VHP leader Pravin Togadia's claim of a plot to kill him to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. The BJP's bickering ally, which has been regularly criticising the Modi government on a host of issues, asked the two leaders to clarify Togadia's stunning claim.
"When pro-Hindutva people in India have to fear for their lives, Modi and Amit Shah should come out and clarify. After the new (BJP-led) government came to power, voices of many, including L K Advani, have been stifled," the Sena alleged in an editorial in its mouthpiece 'Saamana'.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led party said it remained to be seen what "title" is given to the 62-year-old international working president of the VHP after he alleged there was a conspiracy to silence him. "Togadia has levelled a string of allegations against the prime minister. When four senior SC judges came out and revealed the interference (of the Centre) in the judiciary, they were termed anti-nationals and agents of the Congress.
"It remains to be seen what title is given to Pravin Togadia now," the Marathi daily read. The Sena claimed attempts have been made in the past to "stifle" the voice of the party, an old ally of the BJP, using power and threats. The Sena organ said it was surprising that a leader like Togadia, who is known for giving fiery speeches, was in tears and fearing for his life.
"Hindutva mascots Veer Savarkar and Balasaheb Thackeray (the Sena founder) never shed tears or exhibited their helplessness. It is sad that Togadia, seen as a Hindutva mascot, is in a condition where he has to shed tears," the editorial read. The Sena sought to know if "murderers" were trying to reach the physician-turned-Hindutva leader under the garb of policemen.
"Were murderers trying to reach Togadia under the garb of policemen as chief ministers of Rajasthan and Gujarat had no idea about their police personnel having been dispatched to arrest the VHP chief," it read. The Sena said it remains firmly committed to the cause of Hindutva. "We have never fought the fight for Hindutva through guerrilla tactics. For us, Hindutva is not a game or a means to play politics but our national duty."
Togadia, a Z plus category protectee, went untraceable on January 15 after a team of the Rajasthan police arrived at Ahmedabad to arrest him in connection with a case registered at Gangapur in Sawai Madhopur district. He was later found unconscious in a park in Shahibau and admitted to a hospital. At a press meet in the hospital a day later, the firebrand leader alleged attempts were being made to silence him for raising issues related to the Hindu community.
Togadia moved to tears and claimed he went into hiding after learning a Rajasthan police team had come to arrest him. He claimed he got messages from "some people" that he might be killed in a (fake) "encounter". The Congress demanded an "independent" probe into the allegations levelled by Togadia, while RSS leader M G Vaidya said he should reveal who was behind the alleged conspiracy to kill him.