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Friday, 23 December 2011

Mithaiwallah to head VHP, old order goes

From The Telegraph
by Radhika Ramaseshan

New Delhi, Dec. 19: Ashok Singhal bowed out as the president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and made way for G Raghava Reddy, a businessman and philanthrophist of Andhra Pradesh.

Singhal, who is into its eighties, has been ill and immobile for some time. Mohanrao Bhagwat, the RSS sarsanghachalak--who, Sangh sources said, wanted to bring in a “generational change” in the VHP like he did in the BJP--picked the 50-year-old Reddy, who has inherited a family trade of a chain of mithai shops in Hyderabad and other
Andhra cities known as Pulla Reddy Sweets after his late father.

Reddy senior was a VHP member and closely associated with the Ram temple movement.

Reddy, said sources, was chosen not because he is relatively young but also because he is believed to be close to Bhagwat. Just as Nitin Gadkari was selected for the same reason as the BJP chief, sources said, Bhagwat now hopes to use Reddy to gain control of the VHP, which has autonomously raised a sizeable number of cadres throughout the country. As long as Singhal was around, Bhagwat was hands off.

Like his predecessor, Reddy was designated international president. He was previously the VHP’s chief treasurer.

In a series of changes that reflected the internal power dynamics within the saffron parivar, the fiesty Praveen Togadia, who had hoped to ascend to the top after Singhal, was “elevated” as the international working president. But VHP sources admitted it was an ornamental post. Togadia’s bitter relations with Gujarat’s chief minister Narendra Modi were factored in when Bhagwat decided to sidestep his claims.

Although Modi has defanged the RSS and the VHP back in Gujarat, sources maintained he repaired the breach with Nagpur and was on “amicable” terms with Bhagwat and the other key players in the Sangh headquarter. On its part, the Sangh perceives Modi as the most “promising” of the BJP’s top leaders.

Champat Rai, an RSS “pracharak” of Uttar Pradesh and a key strategist of the temple “movement”, has been appointed as the international general secretary. Sources said he is expected to conceptualise and execute the organisation’s blueprints in consultation with the RSS chief.

Dinesh Chandra, also a Sangh “pracharak” and a VHP ofice-bearer, was expected to get Rai’s job. But he reportedly fell foul of a senior BJP leader after he indicted a protege of this leader in a probe he was asked to conduct on a corruption charge. A section of the BJP was supposed to have unleashed a counter campaign against Chandra. He was made the organisational general secretary.

Sources said the new office-bearers propose launching an “awareness” campaign against the Centre’s reported move to carve a quota for the minorities out of reservations for OBCs and Dalits.

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