Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has repeatedly insisted that his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government would function without interference from parent body Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). However, the reality appears to be quite different.
Senior RSS leaders have reportedly told ministers from the BJP to lay emphasis on education, ensuring that textbooks reflect the ‘real’ history and to find a place for Sanskrit in the school curriculum.
With the new education policy set to be announced early next year by the Centre, right wing bodies and ideologues including the RSS have been on an overdrive to suggest changes to the government in order to rectify what they believe is the flawed history narrative taught to students across the country.
Recently, the NDA government at the Centre had controversially decided to replace German with Sanskrit as the third language in Kendriya Vidyalaya schools.
The latest 'suggestion' was made on Thursday morning, when RSS leaders held a meeting with more than 100 BJP leaders including Fadnavis as well as ministers and legislators at its Reshimbagh headquarters.
While top RSS functionaries such as chief Mohan Bhagwat and Bhaiyyaji Joshi were not present, senior leaders Ram Harkare and Abhay Agnihotri attended the meeting, which lasted for more than an hour. Senior ministers Sudhir Munganttiwar, Girish Bapat and Pankaja Munde were among those who attended the meeting.
Sources said that Bhagwat and Joshi had deliberately skipped the meeting and handed over the agenda for the interaction to their deputies.
The RSS functionaries also told BJP leaders – particularly those with no RSS background – to treat themselves as RSS ambassadors. The BJP leaders were also told to be cautious about the image they portray while discharging their duties.
Sources said that Thursday’s meeting was an experiment on the part of the RSS and similar interactions would be conducted for ministers and chief ministers in other BJP-ruled states in the near future.
Senior BJP legislator Tara Singh, however, termed the meeting as routine.
“It’s a normal visit. Today, we have come here to take a darshan of the (RSS founder) Dr KB Hedgewar memorial and interact with RSS functionaries as it is in Nagpur and we are here to participate in the ongoing winter session of the state legislature.”
The meeting was initially scheduled for December 2 at Nagpur. However, it was cancelled following a hue and cry by the Opposition over the RSS’ alleged interference in governance of the state.
A senior RSS pracharak said the issue of introducing a uniform civil code – civil law that governs citizens irrespective of religion or ethnicity - on the lines of Goa was also discussed in the meeting.