The uneasy relationship between two cadre-based organisations, ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is set to worsen further with the state government’s plan to ban shakhas (Sangh’s physical training and learning sessions) in temples across the state.
In Kerala, RSS activities are more or less confined to temples. With more than 5,000 shakhas, the state has the maximum number of shakhas in the country. Any move to restrict these shakhas is likely vitiate ties between the two.
The state government is planning to bring a new law to ban shakhas in temples owned by devasom boards. The state temple affairs ministry has sought the help of law ministry to bring an effective law. “We have received complaints that RSS workers are using temple premises for weapons training and storing arms. The government can’t allow this anymore,” said state temple affairs minister Kadakampally Surendran.
However RSS-BJP leaders ridiculed the move saying Marxists who never believed in any religion or god have no right to control believers. “During Emergency, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had tried unsuccessfully to ban activities of RSS. The CPI(M)’s plan to weaken Sangh activities won’t succeed in Kerala,” said BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan, also a former RSS pracharak.
Though the minister has cited complaints about “illegal activities” of RSS, the main reason cited is the fear of the CPI(M) that the RSS was using places of worships to help BJP make inroads in Hindu vote bank. With poll-bruised opposition Congress finding it hard to stand on its own the CPI(M) fears that saffron party will fill the vacuum. Sensing trouble the CPI(M) is in a race with saffron forces to conduct religious festivals in the state.