Home >Politics >Policy >Pravin Togadia’s speech stirs row, EC scrutiny

New Delhi/Bhavnagar: Reported remarks by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) president Pravin Togadia that Muslims should be stopped from buying property in Hindu-majority areas drew sharp attacks from political parties on Monday even as the Election Commission (EC) sought a tape of his speech.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesman Prakash Javadekar said “if these reported remarks are correct, we completely denounce them. It is not BJP’s view. Whatever decision the EC takes in this regard, Gujarat government is bound to follow."

Speaking at a house in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, Togadiareportedly said, “This is being done by Muslims in villages and across India. Their strategy is to buy one house at a good price and then buy Hindu properties at throw-away prices...there are two ways to stop this...govt enforces Disturbed Areas Act. You put pressure on the government to enforce the Disturbed Areas Act the way we have in cities like Ahmedabad."

The Disturbed Areas Act makes it tough to sell property to a member of the minority community in a neighbourhood.

Togadia was also quoted as saying that “...for protecting the Hindus, it is okay to put pressure on anyone. I have done this before and kept the possession of the house with me for a long time using the Bajrang Dal poster. The Muslim fellow lost the house and his money and we should have it in us to take the law in our hands in an area we are in majority."

Naresh Gujaral of the Shiromani Akali Dal said “anybody who speaks this kind of language has no place in our society".

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) dismissed the report, saying that “no swayamsevak thinks on such divisive lines."

The Congress approached the Election Commission seeking stern action against Togadia for his “anti-national and provocative" remarks, and said it was aimed at helping Narendra Modi and BJP in the elections.

In a complaint to the EC, Congress’s legal department secretary K.C. Mittal said that Togadia’s statement is “anti-national, provocative, inflammatory and an open threat to persons belonging to a particular community".

“The intent and purpose of such a statement is well known when the election process is on—to seek votes for BJP and Narendra Modi with whom they share the same philosophy and ideology," he said in the letter.

Mittal regretted that such statements are allowed and permitted by the BJP to seek votes by spreading hatred amongst different communities and religions.

“Unless the Commission takes stern action against persons making such speeches, fair and proper election cannot be conducted," he said.

Congress leader Kapil Sibal slammed Togadia’s remarks saying “he always spreads venom...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 Rashid Alvi said “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."

Under-fire Togadia termed the media reports about his controversial remarks as “false, malafide and mischievous".

“The report about a misinformed incident in Gujarat... is false, malafide and mischievous," Togadia said in a statement issued on his behalf by his lawyer. “We wish to state here emphatically that there was nothing socially or legally wrong in the above advice given by my client to the said group as mentioned. The said report gives a completely false story intended to malign my client socially," it said.

Togadia said legal notices had been issued by his lawyer to media houses in Delhi and Gujarat.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury demanded immediate arrest of the VHP leader for his “hate speech" and 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," Yechury said.

Janata Dal (United) 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.

Denying the reports that Togadia has made such a statement, RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said “I have spoken to Pravin 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.

The Election Commission has sought a recording of Togadia’s speech. “They (EC officials) are in the process of acquiring the recording of the statements 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 told PTI. PTI

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