Congress promises to ban RSS shakhas in Madhya Pradesh government premises, stirs row
BHOPAL: A political controversy has erupted in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh after opposition Congress promised that if voted to power in the state after 15 years, it will ban Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) shakhas in government premises and not permit state government employees to participate in Sangh shakhas.
While the Congress has justified its promise made in the Vachan-Patra (manifesto) for November 28 assembly poll, the ruling BJP has slammed the opposition party saying this reveals the Congress' ultimate objective, "Mandir nahi banane denge aur Shakha nahi chalne denge (neither will they allow construction of time nor will they allow running of shakhas).
In its manifesto released on Saturday, the Congress mentioned in the Administrative Reforms section that "RSS shakhas will not be allowed in the government premises and the government order allowing government officials and employees to attend the shakhas too will be scrapped.
The stand was repeated by three senior Congress leaders, former finance and home minister P Chidambaram in Indore, ex-CM Digvijaya Singh and national party spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi in Bhopal.
BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra slammed the Congress over the issue: "This has once again exposed Congress' real political objective of neither allowing the construction of temple nor allowing the running of shakhas. Sangh is not a political organization, but a purely social and cultural organization whose humanitarian works are for all to see everywhere, including the relief work done by RSS workers during the recent flood in Kerala."
"On the one hand Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh say the Naxalites are revolutionaries and Naxalism is a revolutionary process and on the other hand the same party treats RSS not as a social organization, but as a hated political outfit," said Patra.
He said that way back in 2008, Rahul Gandhi told the US Ambassador that the threat to national security doesn't arise from banned outfits like Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), but instead from the Hindu outfits. During overseas visits, Rahul Gandhi has also equated RSS with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned as a terror outfit in six countries.
Patra added: The other Congress leader Digvijaya Singh embraces controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik as the apostle of peace and links the RSS to 26/11 terror attack, which also speaks volume about whose cause is he committed to. This latest promise in Congress' manifesto is only re-endorsement of what its leaders like Rahul Gandhi and Digvijaya Singh have been speaking in the past.
He also questioned, "What is the Congress stand on its national general secretary in-charge for the state, Deepak Babaria who a few weeks back had publicly told Congress workers and leaders to learn discipline from RSS."
In Bhopal, while justifying the promise of banning RSS shakhas in government premises and not allowing government employees to participate in Sangh shakhas, the Congress national spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi, said: "Nowhere in our manifesto have we said that the RSS will be banned, we've only mentioned about not allowing RSS shakhas in government premises and not allowing government servants in such shakhas. Our point is that a government employee is committed to country's constitution and not to a particular political thought or organisation."
"The relaxation on allowing government employees to participate in RSS shakhas was given here in 2006, but the centre still bans government employees from taking part in political activities. How can the RSS be called a cultural or social organization, can anyone give the registration number under which it has been registered as a cultural/social organization. Everyone knows even that when a minister is to be inducted in government here, the decision is not taken in Delhi or Bhopal, but instead decided from Nagpur (the RSS headquarters). This so-called cultural organization had promised Sardar Patel that it won't indulge in the political process, but is now making comments and statements on all political issues," said Chaturvedi.
State Congress' deputy media in-charge Bhupendra Gupta said: If the BJP is so concerned about RSS shakhas, it should first protest against Narendra Modi government in the centre, which still bans government employees from taking part in RSS shakhas. Go to tribal districts like Alirajpur and Jhabua and you'll find how the hostels for tribal children are closed for 15-20 days for holding RSS programmes and the teachers there are forced to work as cooks for such programmes."