The RSS Sunday held a meeting of six vice-chancellors and over 30 professors from various government universities in Chhattisgarh at Raipur’s Saraswati Shishu Mandir, a school run by the Sangh.
The day-long meeting was also attended by State Education Minister Prem Prakash Pandey.
The Congress said the meet was a violation of the Constitution and alleged that educational institutions were being made to surrender before the Sangh, but the BJP-led state government and the RSS defended the move, saying that “a swayamsevak can attend any meeting”.
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Chief Minister Raman Singh said, “V-Cs attended the meeting at the invitation of the minister. I also attend the Sangh’s shakhas.”
RSS’s Chhattisgarh prant sanghchalak Bisra Ram Yadav and sahprant sanghchalak Purnendu Saxena presided over the meeting, attended by Bastar University V-C N D Chandra, Kushabhau Thakre University V-C Man Singh Parmar and Raipur University V-C S K Pandey, among others.
The Centre, through a 1966 order, had banned government employees from participating in the activities of the RSS and the Jamaat-e-Islami. Though the order is in effect even today, a few states such as Chhattisgarh have amended it in their territory.
In February 2015, the Chhattisgarh government had issued a notification that allowed government servants to join the RSS and participate in its activities.
At Sunday’s meeting, Chandra appreciated the Sangh’s efforts and expressed hope that such meetings would help improve the functioning of universities, those who were present there said.
It is learnt that top Sangh leaders discussed the education system and the choice-based credit system, while V-Cs and professors discussed their problems with RSS functionaries. Some of them demanded that they be given MoS status.
When contacted, state Education Minister Pandey said, “Anyone can visit anywhere in the capacity of swayamsevak. Even government servants in the state can attend Sangh meetings. The Sangh is not a political organisation. If someone goes to a BJP meeting, then it’s a different issue.” He added that the “Sangh holds meetings in several sectors. This was in the field of education”.
“I won’t disclose what all we discussed, but shiksha ke kshetra men charcha hui (the discussion was in the field of education),” Pandey said.
Saxena said, “This was not an RSS function, but that of the Vidya Bharati, which works exclusively in the field of education. This was not a meeting of V-Cs but a seminar of intellectuals, which had several other attendees like principals, and yes, some college heads. There were absolutely no instructions given, which is the government’s job. But anyone can meet to discuss education.”
Asked if the Sangh was trying to impose its agenda on educational institutions, Saxena said, “What agenda? Who will give them (V-Cs) any agenda? We only discussed.”
Calling the meeting unconstitutional, the Congress said the V-Cs report to the Governor and not the RSS. In a letter to Governor Balramji Das Tandon Tuesday, Leader of Opposition T S Singhdeo said the meeting was proof of the RSS’s attempt to “saffronise education”.
V-Cs who attended the meeting were unavailable for comment.