Togadia quits VHP; VS Kokje is new worldwide president

Pravin Togadia. PTI file

Pravin Togadia. PTI file

The decision after Togadia's aide Raghav Reddy was defeated by retired justice and former Himachal Pradesh governor VS Kokje in polling for the post of worldwide president of the VHP.

Mumbai: Pravin Togadia ended his three-year-long journey as President on Saturday.

The election was necessitated after the organisation's members failed to reach a consensus on a new worldwide president.

Togadia had informally been the leader of the VHP since 2003 and was formally appointed to the post in 2011. Togadia, who batted for Reddy, however, alleged irregularities in the exercise.

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Kokje defeated Reddy by bagging 131 votes to 60. Closely associated with the RSS, Mr. Kokje had also been the president of the Bharat Vikas Parishad and the vice-president of the VHP. He became Governor of Himachal Pradesh on 8 May 2003, serving in that post until 19 July 2008.Now global president for VHP after Pravin G Togadia. I was in it for 32 years. Togadia had said. "They (the BJP) have neither built the Ram temple nor ushered in development", he had added, flagging joblessness and rural distress under Modi.

A vocal critic of the Narendra Modi government, Togadia, who is known for inflammatory speeches on issues such as cow slaughter and interfaith marriages, has already dubbed his ouster as evidence of the VHP caving into pressure from the government. A few months ago, he dramatically disappeared from his office at the VHP office in Ahmedabad despite "Z" category security after a team of the Rajasthan police came to serve him a warrant in an old case. Following the incident, he was admitted to hospital, where among his visitors were Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) chief Hardik Patel and Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia.

"The way he (Togadia) was targeting the Prime Minister had become unbearable".

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