V S Kokje elected VHP international president, Togadia quits

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GURGAON: Former Himachal Pradesh Governor V S Kokje was Saturday elected the VHP’s international president, ending decades-long reins of firebrand leader Pravin Togadia whose nominee and incumbent Raghava Reddy faced a huge drubbing in the first election in 52 years.
Togadia, who has been with the VHP for over three decades and served as its international working president since December 2011, announced quitting the outfit in a press conference after his nominee to the post of international president of the VHP was defeated in voting.
Kokje defeated Reddy by bagging 131 votes to 60. A total of 192 delegates of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) were eligible to vote in today’s election in Gurgaon.
Togadia, who batted for Redyy, however, alleged irregularities in the exercise.
The election was necessitated after the organisation’s members failed to reach a consensus on a new international president.
Kokje proposed names for the new central executive team, which were approved the Board of Trustees, according to a VHP statement.
Alok Kumar has been made the VHP working president and Ashok Rao Chowgule the working president (external).
Milind Parande is the new secretary general and Vinayak Rao Deshpande organisational general secretary.
Champat Rai will be the vice-president and Venkata Koteswara Rao the joint general secretary.
After the election, Togadia said they would continue to be the voice of Hindus.
He laid stress on the need to work together for building a Ram Temple in Ayodhya, getting a law enacted to ban cow slaughter across the country and abrogating Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution.
Article 370 gives autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir and Article 35A empowers its legislature to define the state’s “permanent residents”, their special rights and privileges.
Togadia alleged that there was an attempt to rig the elections.
It was “shocking and saddening” to see that the VHP has been made to bow before power “not for Hindu wellbeing but for individual whims and fancies of some powermongers”, he said in a statement.
“Hindus all over can clearly see through the dirty political designs in cracking the grand VHP,” said Togadia, who has off-late been critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP leadership.