Ex-HP Governor V S Kokje is new VHP chief; Togadia out

Ex-HP Governor V S Kokje is new VHP chief; Togadia out

Former Himachal Pradesh Governor Vishnu Sadashiv Kokje was on Saturday elected the international vice president of the VHP, bringing down the curtains on a long inning played by Pravin Togadia.

Elections were necessitated for the top post in the VHP, a prominent organisation of the Sangh Parivaar, as members of the organisation failed to reach a consensus on the new leadership.

Kokje (79), a former high  court judge, got 131 votes and defeated incumbent international president G Raghava Reddy, who could secure only 60 votes.

Kokje has appointed advocate Alok Kumar and Ashok Chaugule as the working presidents, Milind Parande as secretary  general and Vinayak Deshpande as secretary general (organisation), a VHP spokesman said.

Relations between Togadia and the RSS leadership have soured over the past few months, particularly after the pro-Sangh faction within the VHP tried to push the candidature of Kokje for the top post at a meeting in Bhubaneshwar last year.

The move was opposed tooth and nail by Togadia, who addressed a huge gathering and even accused "certain leaders" of trying to topple him.

Togadia's relations with the Sangh and the BJP have been strained for quite some time and matters came to worse when he made a veiled attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January after he went missing for a few hours in Ahmedabad and was found unconscious in one of the bylanes of the city.

At a press conference in January, Togadia had claimed there was a conspiracy to kill him and this was hatched jointly by the Crime Branch and the Rajasthan Police.

Kokje was born on September 6, 1939, in Madhya Pradesh and pursued higher studies in Indore.

He was appointed a judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in 1990 and later transferred to the Rajasthan High Court where he was the acting chief justice till his retirement in 2001.

The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had appointed him as the Governor of Himachal Pradesh in May 2003.

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