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Congress poll promise to check RSS shakhas running in Madhya Pradesh draws BJP ire

BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal said RSS is a disciplined social and cultural organisation and Congress is trying to project it as anti-minority.

Madhya Pradesh Elections 2018 Updated: Nov 11, 2018 17:10 IST
Madhya Pradesh Congress president Kamal Nath along with campaign committee chief Jyotiraditya Scindia and former chief minister Digvijaya Singh, Suresh Pachouri and Rajendra Singh release party election manifesto for the upcoming Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections at PCC headquarters in Bhopal on Saturday. (Mujeeb Faruqui/HT Photo)

Congress’s promise to revoke a Madhya Pradesh government order allowing its staff to take part in Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) shakhas and to ban the use of government property for such meetings, drew strong condemnation from the BJP, which accused Congress of trying to create fear among minorities for votes.

BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal said RSS is a disciplined social and cultural organisation and “this has been accepted even by the courts”.

“By raising this issue, the Congress is trying to project that RSS is anti-minority and trying to instill fear among the minorities and consolidate its vote bank,“ he said.

Senior Congress leader Manak Agrawal rebutted him, saying there is very little doubt that RSS is a political organisation. “Its members constantly comment on political development and its cadre directly helps the BJP and many have dual membership.”

Congress leaders, led by state chief Kamal Nath, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Digvijay Singh and others, had released the party manifesto on Saturday. Among many promises, the party had announced about the RSS shakhas.

Defending the announcements, Congress spokesperson Bhupendra Gupta said that use of government buildings for political organisations is banned by an order of the Union government and no government employee is allowed to be a part of any political party, according to service conduct rules.

It is only in Madhya Pradesh that the BJP government passed an order in 2006, allowing its employees to take part in RSS shakhas, which are often held in official buildings.

“I have several instances in which RSS programmes have been held in government hostels in tribal districts and all the children were sent home. This is a gross misuse of government property and we will stop it,” Gupta said.

A RSS prachar pramukh, Rajiv Tuli said: “No one can stop anyone, including government employees from visiting a shakha. Even the courts in the past have ruled that there can be no ban imposed on anyone from attending a shakha.”

He claimed that some Congress leaders had in the past said they would allow shakhas to come up. “We’ve seen what the party has been reduced to today. Why is the Congress from Nehru to Rahul Gandhi scared of the RSS?” he wondered.

First Published: Nov 11, 2018 17:00 IST