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Chouhan goes one up Modi

WHAT ONCE RSS pracharak Narendra Modi could not dare to do, Madhya pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has done. It took nearly three years and three chief ministers of RSS to finally prevail upon the State?s BJP government to legitimise Sangh ?shakhas? and other activities for government employees.

india Updated: Sep 15, 2006 15:08 IST

WHAT ONCE RSS pracharak Narendra Modi could not dare to do, Madhya pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has done. It took nearly three years and three chief ministers of RSS to finally prevail upon the State’s BJP government to legitimise Sangh ‘shakhas’ and other activities for government employees.

The State Government decision came after the chief minister’s several meetings with RSS leaders, most notable being Suresh Soni.

If the Gujarat misadventure in this regard is anything to go by, the Shivraj Singh Government’s decision to revoke the ban on RSS activities is unlikely to stand legal scrutiny in the court.

The Digvijay Singh government had slapped the ban on the plea that RSS is not a purely cultural organisation but patron of the Sangh Parivar of which BJP is a political offshoot. The contention conforms to the sub rule one of the rule five of the Madhya Pradesh Civil Services (conduct) rules 1965 that says that ‘no government employee can join any political party or organisation that participates in political activity and subscribes to or assists in any manner like donation any political movement or activity.”

However, the State Government has asserted that this sub rule is not applicable to the RSS. The then Gujarat Chief Minister Keshu Bhai Patel had also taken the similar plea to allow RSS activities for the government employees in 1999. The move, predictably, had raised a massive political storm. A slew of petitions in courts followed. One of the petitioners was Congress MP and the State’s leading lawyer Haroo Bhai Patel.

Realising that the decision is legally untenable and fraught with danger to the federal structure of the Construction, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee  sought Attorney General Soli Sorabji’s legal opinion. Sorabji advised to withdraw the decision.  The PM prevailed on Keshu Bhai and the ban was re- imposed. It is continuing in Narendra Modi’s Gujarat.

In case the decision is challenged in the court, the BJP Government will have a tough task proving that RSS has nothing to do with politics.  The very fact that BJP borrows its organising secretaries from the RSS under a well-established party constitution militates against the  ‘cultural organisation’ theory. The RSS was banned in the aftermath of  Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. On July 11, 1949 the ban was revoked.

This followed the RSS undertaking to the then Union Home Minister Sardar Patel that ‘ the Sangh as such had no politics and was devoted to cultural activities. Its individual Swayamsewak, however, may join any political party. ” Since then RSS inclination to politics has increased, not decreased.