A Bihar Police Special Branch letter seeking information on addresses and professions of functionaries of the RSS and 18 allied organisations including the VHP, Bajrang Dal and ABVP has prompted an angry BJP reaction, bringing to fore the recent tension in ties with the JD (U) with which it shares power in the state.
In a letter dated May 28, Special Branch SP Rajiv Ranjan — he has since been promoted and sent outside Bihar for training — instructed all Dy SPs and district officers of the Special Branch to gather details on “addresses and profession of all office bearers such as presidents, vice presidents, secretaries, treasurers or any other such posts, their telephone numbers and professions or trade”.
Seeking the details within a week and asking them to “consider it very urgent”, the SP marked copies of the letter to the Additional DG, IG and DIG of Special Branch.
Irritant now, can fuel mistrust
Bihar Police’s action has the potential to cast a shadow on the BJP-JD(U) relations in the state, more so when the Home department in the state is under direct control of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. This new irritant in relations between the parties comes in the backdrop of JD(U)’s decision to stay away from joining the Narendra Modi government for the time being. Nitish Kumar’s party has also sounded its disagreement with the BJP over the triple talaq Bill and the citizenship amendment Bill. In this backdrop, this action has the potential to fuel mistrust between the NDA partners.
On Wednesday, after the letter went public, police swung into damage control. Additional DG (Special Branch) J S Gangwar told a press conference: “The SP who had issued it had got it wrong and had not taken his seniors into confidence.”
The organisations about which details were sought included Durga Vahini, Hindu Jagran Samiti, Dharm Jagran Samanway Samiti, Hindu Rashtra Sena, Hindu Yuva Vahini, Hindu Putra Sangathan, Rashtriya Sevika Samiti, Shiksha Bharti, Swadeshi Jagran Manch, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Bharatiya Railway Sangh and Akhil Bharatiya Shikshak Mahasangh.
BJP spokesperson Rajib Ranjan told The Indian Express: “Everyone knows RSS is a nationalist organisation working in the interest of the country and not just for Hindus. Its work is in the public domain. Bihar Police spying on RSS is uncalled for and illegal.”
JD (U) minister Ashok Kumar Choudhary played it down, calling it a “routine matter”.
The Opposition RJD and Congress welcomed the Special Branch move with Congress leader Prem Chandra Mishra even praising the Nitish Kumar government for seeking information on the RSS and allied organisations.
RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tewary said the government had every right to know about activities of any organisation and there was “nothing wrong in getting details on the RSS and allied organisations”.