RSS Free to Hold Classes Outside Govt Offices, Congress Manifesto Doesn’t Talk of Ban: Kamal Nath
His statement comes a day after BJP leaders lashed out at the Congress for being "opposed to Lord Ram and the RSS".
File photo of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath. (PTI Photo)
Bhopal Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath Monday said the BJP was "distorting" his party manifesto's reference to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to divert public attention.
His statement comes a day after BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, party vice president Prabhat Jha and MP unit chief Rakesh Singh lashed out at the Congress for being "opposed to Lord Ram and the RSS".
"The BJP is intentionally fanning the RSS issue to divert people's attention from the public welfare issues mentioned in our 'Vachan Patra' (document of pledges). In our manifesto, we have not mentioned that the RSS would be banned, nor do we have any such intention," Nath told reporters here.
He asserted that neither the party nor he himself have said that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will be banned.
The Congress manifesto, released on Saturday, under a head titled 'administration reforms' reads, "The holding of RSS shakhas in government premises would be banned and the order regarding relaxation given to public servants to attend them will be revoked".
The Congress government had banned RSS activities in government premises in Madhya Pradesh in 1981. The ban was revived in 2000 by then chief minister Digvijaya Singh under the Civil Services Conduct Rule, senior journalist Rakesh Dixit said.
Thereafter, he said, the ban continued under BJP chief ministers Uma Bharti and Babulal Gaur, before incumbent Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan lifted the ban in September 2006, describing the RSS as a "socio-cultural organisation and not a political outfit".
"BJP is trying to put words in our mouth. The RSS is free to hold its shakhas (classes) except in government premises. People will decide whether the RSS is a cultural or political organisation. We do not want to get into it," Nath clarified.
The Congress leader said the BJP was intentionally trying to create confusion so that the "people-friendly" points in the (Congress) agenda go ignored.
"The public is intelligent, it won't be carried away with such tactics," he remarked.
The Chhindwara MP said the Congress had incorporated the point (RSS issue) in their manifesto after getting suggestions that the RSS shakhas being held in tribal hostels
and other government schools were hindering studies.
On the issue of the Ram temple, he said the BJP raises it when polls draw close.
"Where was the BJP since last four and a half years?
When elections are round the corner and six months are left
for it, the BJP is remembering Ram Temple," he said, adding the saffron party was running a smear campaign claiming that the Congress was against the (building of) Ram temple.
"This (RSS mention) is not an issue. I know (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi and (BJP president) Amit Shah very
well. They turn a non-issue into an issue," Congress spokesperson Shakti Singh Gohilhe told reporters here.
On Sunday, in a hurriedly convened press conference, Patra had claimed that the Congress believed in "mandir nahin banane denge, shakha nahin lagne denge (won't allow the temple, won't allow shakhas)".
"These are the very people who had earlier said that Lord Ram did not exist, that he was a mythical character.
That is why they were opposed to the construction of the Ram
temple," he had said.
Hitting out at former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh, Patra had said, "Digvijaya Singh has also said
that the RSS should be banned".
Likewise, BJP vice president Prabhat Jha had Sunday told reporters in Mandsaur that former prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi had banned the RSS, but their moves had boomeranged.
BJP state unit chief Rakesh Singh too had lashed out at the Congress and dared it to "impose a ban on the RSS if it has the strength".
The 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly will go to polls on November 28 and the results will be announced on December 11.
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