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Togadia and Azad
Debate between a priest and a liberal
Mud-slinging, Gandhian quotes and liberal thinkers

Coming back to the TV debate

Togadia's style of debating was characteristic—evasion by direct confrontation and intimidation. He kept eliciting round after round of applause showing different 'documents' and other forms of evidence to his opponent. But the central theme remained, evasion of the most fundamental question: the VHP's 'official stand' on conversions. When Ghulam Nabi Azad would question Togadia about certain touchy issues of the VHP, Togadia would spring up immediately, accusing of the Congress of similar acts in the past and when he would question Togadia on his viewpoints on conversions, Togadia would resort to showing 'facts and figures' and also quote Gandhi for good measure.

Political mud-slinging for touchy issues, Gandhian quotes and Committee reports for questions on principle; this is what Togadia had to offer.

But the VHP's intent is clear, conversions are to be banned. Why is this? Because conversions are the only way of escape from Hinduism into other belief systems. Because a ban on conversions will have a negative impact on the numbers of all other religions other than Hinduism.Because the VHP is not bothered about the numbers that they'll lose by the prevention of conversions from other religions into Hinduism—that never happens anyway. Because then, the VHP is ensured of a constant supply of numbers into Hinduism—the children of Hindus.

If Azad were to resort to mud-slinging...

Togadia would have been trapped essentially, with no way of escape had Azad come 'prepared' for this 'debate'. Let me ask the questions he should have asked

"If the Niyogi Commission Report1 was accepted by the Congress",asked Togadia, "why not stand by it now"? If the Srikrishna Commission2 indicted the Maharashtra Government (BJP led), I ask, why didn't the Government resign thereafter?

"All along you have opposed the Hindu card and demonised the BJP for using it", asked Togadia, "why is Sonia suddenly finding Hindu principles attractive and why is Sonia visiting the Tirupati Temple?" All along you have promoted Hinduism and upheld it, I ask, why not feel proud when a 'Roman Catholic' like Sonia sees your good points?

"How dare they denigrate Ram and Sita, and insult our Gods?", asked Togadia. Go complain to the local police station, I tell him.

To the same Togadia, I ask a question. Wasn't it the same VHP which declared that "matters of religion cannot be decided in courts, We'll go ahead with the construction of the Ram temple at the Ram Jhanmbhoomi at Ayodhya?" Then why do you pretend to seek the cover and protection of the law of the land in the conversions issue now? Why not declare that Hindus have a right to kill anyone who is opposed to their religion becuase a Hindu is after all a practioner of Hinduism, a religion above all law?

To the Togadia who looked at Azad with a half-smirk, when asking;

"Is this a democratic country, dont you uphold the principles of liberalism. Then why don't we have a debate on conversions?"
I ask; Isn't this a democratic country, don't we uphold liberal ideals, then why get emotional when some Christians called your Hindu Gods names? After all, dont they have a right to say what they think about Hindu Gods, in this democratic and liberal country?

This is what I have to tell Togadia in the end; "I am ready to dicuss conversions with you if you let me insult your Gods". To the liberals and the libertarians, this is what I have to say; "The Togadias are your worst nightmare finally coming true. Deal with them as best as you can".

Articles in this series...
Part 1. Conversions-Why we shouldn't be debating
Part 2. Conversions-Why we shouldn't be debating, Cont'd
Part 3.The VHP's view of religion and tribals
Part 4. Mud-slinging, Gandhian quotes and liberal thinkers

1The Niyogi Commission Report,1965 was accepted by the Congress-led Government at that time. It stated religous conversions as a cause for social tensions.
2The SriKrishna Commission Report was on communal riots in Bombay in 1993. It held the Shiv-Sena BJP combine responsible for inciting violence and the local police for inaction.


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