A day after Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said offering namaz should be restricted to mosques, eidgahs or “private places”, his Cabinet colleague and state Health Minister Anil Vij on Monday supported the view, even as a senior Congress legislator pointed out that although Khattar is against namaz on public space, his Cabinet colleague Om Prakash Dhankar advocates holding RSS shakhas at state-run vyayamshalas (gymnasiums).
Speaking with the media in Ambala on Monday, Vij said, “Our Constitution permits everyone to worship according to one’s religious faith. Lekin kisi bhi zamin par kabza karne ke liye namaz padna hai to ussey sveekaar nahi kiya ja sakta. (But if anybody offering namaz looks for illegal occupation of space, then it can’t be accepted).”
On Sunday, Khattar had said, “If there is a shortage of space, then namaz should be offered in a private place. This is not something which should be displayed at public place.”
Accusing the Haryana BJP government of trying to distract people from real issues by raising such matters, senior Congress leader and party MLA Karan Singh Dalal said, “They (BJP) are taking up such tactics to pit people against each other. On one hand, the Chief Minister is stating that namaz should not be offered in the open but at the same time their minister (Om Prakash Dhankar) is talking about holding RSS shakhas at state-run vyayamshalas.”
Earlier in the day, addressing the media, Dalal said, “Jo vyayamshala state exchequer se banti hain…ye wahan kachhe-dhariyon ko bethane ki saazish kar rahein hain… Apni to ye shakha lagane ki baat kar rahein hain aur unki namaz bandh karne ki baat kar rahi hai (They are conspiring to hand over vyayamshalas set up with public money to the saffron-clad RSS workers. While they talk about holding RSS shakhas, they want to stop namaz).”
Dhankar, Haryana’s Development and Panchayat Minister, had recently stated that RSS shakhas can be organised at places designated for vyayamshalas. On Monday, he reiterated there is nothing wrong in the suggestion to hold RSS shakhas at places designated for vyayamshalas.