Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik has a similarity with the Malegaon blast case accused, Lt Colonel Prasad Purohit and Sameer Kulkarni. For, he too thought the Sangh Parivar was going soft on Hindutva.
“This was the reason why he was sidelined in the Parivar and joined the Shiv Sena in 2005,”said a key Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionary, who did not wish to be named, in Pune.
Little wonder, Muthalik was on the list prepared by Purohit and another Malegaon accused and self-styled godman Dayanand Pandey of people who would help build a hardcore Hindu network.
There was a mention of Muthalik in the charge sheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Melgaon case. It was on the basis of a conversation that Dayanand Pandey had recorded in his laptop.
Purohit was heard praising Muthalik for his “good work” in Karnataka and also pointing out that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka has distanced itself from Muthalik (See box).
Muthalik, 45, began with the RSS in 1975 and first shifted to the Bajarang Dal and then to the Shiv Sena. A native of Hukkeri in Belgaum district on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border, he became convenor of the Dal in south India in 2004.
During the same period, he helped the BJP get the maximum number of seats in the assembly polls, especially north Karnataka which has now become the party’s stronghold. But soon, as the party chose not to defend the various criminal cases against his workers, he joined the Shiv Sena in August 2005.
Muthalik was roped in by then Maharashtra chief minister Manohar Joshi and he joined the party at a grand function at Bijapur and later even met Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray in Mumbai.
However, Muthalik quit the Sena in 2006 after the party revived its demand for the merger of the Marathi speaking areas like Belgaum with Maharashtra.
Although himself a Marathi, Muthalik thought the stir would damage his image in Karnataka.
Then Muthalik floated his own political outfit, the Rashtriya Hindustan Sena (RSH). Sri Ram Sene, which was involved in the attack in a Mangalore pub on January 25, is an offshoot or non-political wing of the party.
Muthalik has also been a die-hard fan of Nathuram Godse, who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi. He has been a regular at a function held in Pune every year to mark the death anniversary of Godse.
Muthalik’s followers insisted that he was not keen on political mileage.
“Muthalik has decided never to contest the elections,” said Vilas Pawar, general secretary, RHS and a close confident of Muthalik.
Muthalik has also been a regular visitor to Satara where he runs a hotel in partnership with a Karnataka businessman.