Madhya Pradesh Congress leaders hoisted the national flag at the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh office under high police security in Indore on Monday. Local RSS leaders greeted the visitors and offered them tea and snacks as a gesture of bonhomie, assuring them of their full support for all activities aimed at “promoting nationalism”.
The occasion was fraught with tension, with over 400 policemen deployed along the three km stretch from the Congress office at Gandhi Bhavan to the RSS office. P Y Road, Imali Bazaar and Tilak Path were closed for traffic from 8.30 am till the flag was hoisted, at 11.30 am.
The state Congress’s move was in reaction to Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad protests against an event marking the anniversary of the execution of Afzal Guru, who was hanged for his role in the December 2001 terrorist attack on the Parliament. The event, which had taken place in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, led to the institute’s students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar’s arrest on February 12.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had supported a subsequent protest by JNU students, raising hostilities between the Congress and RSS.
Aggravating tensions, Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee president Arun Yadav on Sunday declared that he would hoist the Tricolour at the RSS office. Speaking to the media, Yadav said that the Sangh, which talks about nationalism, should first enforce what it advocates.
The RSS hoists the saffron flag at its functions and office buildings.
On Monday morning, a minor scuffle broke out between Congress leaders and policemen, after the latter stopped the march to the RSS office. A little later, Yadav, accompanied by party leaders like MLA Jitu Patwari and ex-MLAs Tulsi Silawat, Satyanarayan Patel and Ashwin Joshi, were allowed to march ahead.
Senior RSS pracharak Prakash Solapurkar and Malwa Prant office head Parthsarathy Gautam received the Congress leaders and took them to the roof, where they unfurled the Tricolour next to the RSS’s saffron flag.
Congress party spokesman Narendra Saluja said that it is for the first time in the history of central India that Congress leaders have hoisted national flag at an RSS office. “We’ve promoted nationalism in them,” he told mediapersons after the function.
Congress takes out rally in Bhopal
Around 400 members of the Congress took out a rally from Central School Number 2 to the Samidha RSS office, before being stopped by the police. They were greeted with a heavy police force, which was armed with water cannons and canes. The police took the national flag from the Congress and arrested them for creating blockade on the road.
“The police were deployed at the behest of RSS. The police had snatched the national flag form us and used force to stop us from going to the RSS office. The whole episode raises a serious question on the nationalism of the saffron organisation as on one hand they are batting to raise national flags in all the national universities and on the other hand they do not hoist it at their own office. This is nothing but fake nationalism which they are talking about in the country right now”, said Ravi Saxena, Congress spokesman while talking to HT.
Protesting the arrest of his fellow party members, he also alleged the saffron organization of being hypocrites on the issue of nationalism.
“We had planned this event in almost all the districts of the state and the RSS has also issued a statement yesterday that they would welcome the Congressmen at their offices by rolling red carpets. However, today they stopped us from hoisting the flag which only reveals their hypocrisy. Their protest at the behest of the police also proves that they don’t have any respect for the national flag”, added Saxena.
The Congressmen later burnt an effigy of RSS leader, Mohan Bhagwat to protest the police action against them.
Cong holds protest in Jabalpur over JNU
Meanwhile in Jabalpur on Monday, the Congress staged a demonstration against the alleged saffronisation of the Jawaharlal Nehru University. They also burnt an effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi which resulted in a small scuffle between them and the police force.
During the demonstration, the Congress district unit head, Dinesh Yadav accused the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party of diverting the attention of the country from real issues by creating issues like beef ban and JNU row.
“The BJP is trying to put false charges on the JNU Student Union leaders so as to have dominance in the university campus. They are trying to take political mileage from the whole row and nothing more than that”, said Dinesh.