The face of Dr Praveen Thogadia is one of the first that come up before anyone thinking of India's Hindutva politics; perhaps the one against whom the most number of cases have been registered for hate speeches.
Thogadia, with a reputation for incendiary speeches, was the working president of Vishva Hindu Parishad from 2011 and was one who played a key role in instigating the 2002 genocide in Gujarat. Those were days when he was a close associate of Narendra Modi. It was in gratitude for Thogadia's role in his winning the prime ministerial post, that Modi made Thogadia's right hand Gordhan Zadafiya the deputy home minister. At that time it was Thogadia who virtually ruled the Gujarat police. On the whole, he was seen as the firebrand leader of Indian Hindutva brigade.
But the press conference Thogadia held on 18 January 2018 had enough surprise for all observers. In tears, he told the mediapesons there that the BJP was making conspiracy to murder him. During the subsequent days, he kept talking about attempts to remove him from VHP's official posts. As if in vindication of his apprehensions, on 14 April the former chief justice of Rajasthan, and governor of Himachal Pradesh Vishnu Sadashiv Kokje, was made the VHP's supremo. Thogadia's response to this was a scathing denunciation of Narendra Modi and the Sangh Parivar leadership. He after declaring that he would start an indefinite hunger strike in Ahmedabad raising several demands, however, withdrew from his fast on the third day. But he ended it with an announcement that he was going to travel across the country to revive the Hindutva movement.
When Thogadia speaks about Sangh parivar conspiracy to murder him, there is nothing surprising about it, for it is a movement with ample record of liquidating people in the name of disagreements and tussle for power. The murder of Haren Pandya, who was a member of Modi's Gujarat cabinet, was planned by the party men themselves, as was revealed by none else than his wife. Therefore, Thogadia, who grew up seeing and conducting these, may not be kidding when he says that the Sangh's men were targeting him; they are just natural things that could happen in a secretive terrorist outfit.
Thogadia's ouster from VHP or the alleged conspiracy against him are matters of least concern to the country's advocates of democracy. But, what Thogadia declared as his goals after the dismissal are matters to be noted by those who follow the Hindutva movement. The main allegation of Thogadia against Modi government was that it diluted the Hindutva's main agenda like Ram temple construction, ban of cow slaughter, and the special status of Kashmir. His contentions go like this: instead of moral Hindutva, political Hindutva has got the upper hand, therefore true Hindutva has to be revived, our slogan should not be India first but Hindu first. Thogadia has also plans to conduct a country-wide campaign with such themes in focus, thereby consolidating Hindu organizations. What he does in the process is to elevate himself to a messenger of rebellious Hindutva.
The Sangh parivar generally mobilizes people by injecting hate and enmity as much as possible. But once in power, as a ruling force it may not be easily able to implement everything in its past rhetoric before the people. All the same, those who carry the poison already injected into them, do exist in plenty, and they are the ones who belong to the definition of angry Hindu. Such elements exist in the form of different outfits in different parts of the country. The Hindu Helpline that functions with the blessings of Thogadia in Kerala belongs to this category.
Thogadia is going ahead with a programme to consolidate various extremist Hindutva groups with violent proclivities. That is what is indicated by his declaration that he is going to make a country-wide journey for the revival of Hindutva. This may sharpen the internal contradictions within the Sangh parivar. But it has to be foreseen that it may also pose grave law and order problems in the country. In the tussle to decide who the real Hindutva people are, its price may have to be paid by the people and the country. The intelligence and police machinery should be equipped to foresee such eventualities and to take necessary precautionary measures. That terrorism will first kills its own offspring is a universal truth. What the Thogadia example shows is that India's Hindutva parivar is not an exception.