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Allahabad will miss Ashok Singhal

The passing away of Mr Ashok Singhal is a big loss to the Hindutva force of the country as well as to the political setup of Allahabad.He was a familiar figure in the city and could be seen active in the Sangam area during the Mela period. Allahabad will miss him. He was undoubtedly a leader of national stature and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (an affiliate of the RSS-BJP’s ideological mentor )should feel deeply indebted to him for his ceaseless, tireless and sincere, dedicated efforts to give the organization the high stature that it has achieved. In spite of his indifferent health, Ashok Singhal was , till the last breath of his life, fairly active. It would be no exaggeration to say that he died in harness as it were, serving the cause dear to his heart till the very end. He knew how to balance radicalism with realism . His hard-hitting style of oratory was a treat to listen to irrespective of whether or not you shared his views. He had his fixed views, set views on certain issues and what I admired in him most was that he never wavered from his chosen path. If he had set himself on defining the country’s problems in a particular manner he made no secret of that. Singhal was widely respected for his mastery over ancient Hindu scriptures. He was at ease in the company of Hindu ascetics and was a strong votary of the movement to build a grand Rama temple on the ruins of the Babri mosque.
I had the occasion to once share the platform with him at a function that was organized by a social organization with which late Mr Krishan Lal Chawla was associated. It was a non-political function. So I was told. But I did not know that Mr Ashok Singhal would be the co-speaker. The organizers told me that Mr Singhal would speak before me. I heard Mr Singhal very, very keenly. He might have seemed provocative but the words by him were so carefully chosen that you just couldn’t find any fault with him. On that day he talked about traitors moving about in the country with impunity and demanded that the enemies of the country be arrested and punished. There was nothing communal in the words he uttered but the listeners interpreted his emphasis on certain words to suggest that he was pointing to a particular setup. When my turn came I said: ‘I fully agree with Mr Ashok Singhal that traitors should be punished. Why just punished? They should be hanged—publicly, if the law permits. But, I said, at the same time we should also ensure that no innocent man is accused of treachery and implicated in a false case. And then I appealed for unity. A vase with a cluster of well-arranged flowers was placed on the table. Pointing at the bouquet I said, ‘How beautiful these flowers of different colours look when they are bound firmly together in a unified mode. Scatter the flowers and how ugly they would appear! Likewise national unity was the need of the hour because united we stand and divided we fall. There were cheers when I concluded and Mr Singhal greeted me too. Mr Masood Ahmed, then Personnel Manager in M/s GEEP Flashlight, was also sitting among the audience. After the meeting he told me: ‘I was just wondering what you will say. But the manner in which you steered clear of all controversy was something laudable indeed.(That must have been over 20 years ago).

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