Raipur: The Chhattisgarh government has kicked up a controversy with a notification that allows its employees to join RSS and attend "shakhas", evoking sharp criticism from the Congress which on Thursday demanded its immediate withdrawal.
The BJP-ruled state revoked the ban which was imposed during undivided Madhya Pradesh, barring government employees from participating in RSS' activities, Special Secretary, General Administration Department, DD Singh said.
The order in this connection was issued by the department on February 23. It said, "as far as Rule 5(1) of Chhattisgarh Civil Services (Conduct) Rules 1965 is concerned, its restriction does not apply to RSS".
Slamming the Government decision, Congress said, "This is a blatantly illegal order. RSS is clearly a political organisation and also firmly believes in the establishment of Hindu Rashtra which is against the Constitution of India."
"How can a government servant swearing allegiance and faith to the Constitution be a member of an organisation which is against the basic principles of the Constitution," said Congress spokesman Sandeep Dikshit in Delhi.
Another spokesman Randeep Surjewala said, "It is a blatant attempt to politicise government servants and an attack on the Constitutional scheme of independence of bureaucracy. Chief Minister Raman Singh's desperation to seek lost political ground will have catastrophic results for impartiality of administrative set up and delivery of citizen services. Indian National Congress strongly condemns such ludicrous decisions and demands immediate withdrawal of the government order."
Former chief minister Ajit Jogi said, "It is an unconstitutional move. It will indoctrinate government servants. They will go to shakhas and will no longer remain impartial."
In Raipur, TS Singhdeo, Leader of Opposition in Legislative Assembly, said, "The order dilutes the difference between government and a political party. RSS has been claiming to be a social-service apolitical outfit but everyone is well aware of the fact that they are running the BJP from backdoor."
"Hence, association of government employees with such organisation will harm the democratic process," said
The Chhattisgarh Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1965 prohibits a government employee from taking part in politics.
"No government servant shall be member of, or be otherwise associated with any political party or any organisation which takes part in politics nor shall he take part in, subscribe in aid of, or assist in any manner, any political movement or activity," it said.
In neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, also ruled by BJP, the ban was lifted a few years back but was still in place in Chhattisgarh, but it has been removed now, the Special Secretary said.
However, he said the ban on participating in political activities is still in force.
The notification was signed by Additional Secretary (General Administration Department) KR Mishra and sent important government functionaries in the state.
Rejecting the Congress criticism, RSS said it is not a political organisation. "Government has done a good thing. This rule was made by the British and has continued since then. The RSS is not a political party. We are a social organisation," RSS Chhattisgarh Sar Sanghchalak Deepak Vispute said.