Congress and several other parties today came down heavily on Pravin Togadia for “spreading venom” through his reported remarks that Muslims should be stopped from buying property in Hindu areas and said that the VHP leader should be “hospitalised” for treatment.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission has sought the recording of the speech made by Togadia in Bhavnagar on Saturday.
“They (EC officials) are in the process of acquiring the recording of the statement made by Togadia and after listening to it they will decide the future course of action,” Bhavnagar District Collector and Returning Officer P K Solanki said in Rajkot today.
While NDA ally Shiromani Akali Dal said the Indian society has no place for such people, RSS dismissed the report, saying that “no swayamsevak thinks on such divisive lines.”
“He always spreads venom, you know that. And he belongs to that category of people in this country who do not believe in the unity and the integrity of India. What can you say about people like this?,” Congress leader and Union Minister Kapil Sibal said.
“It (statement) spreads venom and it is for the authorities to decide,” he said.
Togadia had reportedly joined a group of VHP and Bajrang Dal members in a street protest in Rajkot on Saturday outside a house purchased by a Muslim businessman. Togadia reportedly told the gathering to take forcible possession of the house.
Condemning the statement, Congress leader Rashid Alvi said, “I think Togadia should be given treatment. He should be hospitalised.
“In this country, if Hindus stay in a Hindu area and Muslims in a Muslim area, and they are not allowed to buy property in each other’s areas, it will be against the Constitution,” Alvi said.
Naresh Gujaral of Shiromani Akali Dal said while he is not aware of what Togadia has exactly said, India has survived because of its democracy.
“Democracy can survive only if there is accommodation and acceptance for each other….We can’t be rigid about these things and anybody who speaks this kind of language has no place in our society,” he said.
Denying the reports that Togadia has made such a statement, RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said, “I have spoken to Praveen Togadia. He completely denies making such comments. It is fabricated.
“No Swayamsevak thinks on such divisive lines. They think of all people as one. One people, one nation,” he said.
Slamming the statement, JD(U) leader K C Tyagi said, “Togadia seems to be influenced by Taliban mentality….No action has been taken against him due to a weak government”.
Fatehpuri mosque’s Mufti Mukkaram said the VHP leader should be arrested immediately.
The “government should take action against him. The Election Commission should also take action against him. This is conspiracy to spread riots. He should be booked for spreading communal tension,” he said.
CPI(M) lashed out at the VHP leader for his “hate speech” and sought his immediate arrest, saying that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who also holds the Home portfolio, should take this action.
“As the Home Minister of Gujarat, Modi should himself act (against Togadia) for his hate speech. If he doesn’t, then it is clear that Togadia said all this with his blessings,” CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said.
Yechury’s party colleague Brinda Karat demanded the immediate arrest of Togadia, saying, “This shows the Modi style of governance of giving protection to those who should be behind bars for his hate speech and communal statement in Bhavnagar.”
Yechury said that under the ‘Gujarat model’, “there has already been compartmentalisation of areas in the state for Hindus and Muslims. This is ghettoisation of India and is the real Gujarat model which is the real danger.”
He also demanded immediate action against Togadia by the Election Commission and the law and order machinery.
BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said Togadia denied making such statement when he spoke to the RSS leader after seeing the news report.
“Togadia is saying he has not made such a statement. He is saying he is taking legal action in the matter,” Javadekar said.
In a strongly-worded statement, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi “owes an explanation to the nation” on the issue.
“Will he allow lakhs of Togadias to take the law in their own hands or will he enforce the rights of the citizen? Will he protect the minority community people or will there be another pogrom as happened in 2002?” Chavan asked.
Attacking “the mindset” of the RSS, he said, “they are always trying to divide the community and spread hatred”.
He said it was “not only minorities, people belonging to various sections of the society — Dalits, Adivasis, OBCs and women will not be safe under this mindset.”
“Modi owes an explanation to the nation whether he will allow what Togadia has done in Bhavnagar to be replicated throughout the country,” Chavan told a news channel.
“Does it have his official sanction or he will take strict action against the people who have perpetuated this crime?” he asked.