Indian-American Sonal Shah, whose appointment in the Obama transition team has sparked a row prompting her to deny links with Indian right-wing groups, was a member of VHP-America for three years just after "getting out of college", the US-based group said.
Shah, an eminent economist who was taken into an advisory board by President-elect Barack Obama to assist his team in smooth transition of power, had earlier this week rubbished reports of her links with RSS and VHP and said her politics "has nothing in common with views espoused" by such outfits.
However, an office-bearer of VHP-America Inc told private Indian news channel NDTV that Sonal was a governing body member of the organisation. He also said the outfit had no links with the VHP in India.
The controversy is "absolute hogwash", he said adding, "is it a crime to be a part of VHP or RSS, whatever. VHP-America is an independent body...Not a part of VHP Bharat," he said.
About Shah's links with the group, the office-bearer said "at that time, I believe, she was just getting out of college. And at that time, we were trying to get younger generation to get involved... So she was taken to the governing body... Then Gujarat earthquake happened. But she was there only for three years or so I think."