The CPM-led government in Kerala has proposed a ban on arms training, drills and gatherings for non-spiritual purposes in temple complexes, drawing protests from the RSS.
The Devaswom Department (temple affairs body) has prepared a draft of the order, which would ban RSS training sessions in temple premises. Private persons who allow their premises to be used for RSS shakhas would also have to get prior police sanction.
The draft order is being vetted by the Home Department, sources said.
CPM leader and Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said the government would not allow the RSS to use temple premises for training of its cadres. “Using temples for arms and physical training of any organisation amounts to injustice to the faithful. Such anti-social activities are taking place in some temples. Under the guise of shakhas, the RSS is converting temples into a place for concealment of arms and training,” he said.
The government move comes at a time when the RSS is expanding in Kerala. The Sangh Parivar recently revived several dilapidated temples and converted kavu (traditional, natural sacred groves) into temples. BJP sources said the number of RSS shakhas in Kerala had been stagnant at about 4,000 until three years back. Now it has grown to 5,500 and is set to grow further.
RSS Kerala Prant Karyavahak Gopalankutty Master said, “Worshippers have not complained about RSS shakhas in temples. We are running shakhas without affecting pujas or other rituals. We conduct yoga and drill sessions, bhajans and discussions. The CPM thinks that by banning shakhas at temples, it can kill the RSS. This shows their lack of knowledge. We will fight the move,” he said, adding, “We are not conducting any arms training at shakhas.”
Travancore Dewaswom Board president Prayar Gopalakrishnan said his temple affairs body had not received any complaints about arms training in temples. “RSS volunteers can continue to offer prayers at temples under the board. But we will not allow arms training.” Gopalakrishnan is a Congress nominee appointed by the previous UDF government.
BJP state general secretary K Surendran said RSS shakhas were not functioning at the mercy of the CPM. “Let the government produce complaints, if any, against the conduct of shakhas at temples. By banning shakhas at temples, the CPM wants to please anti-national communal forces that helped them come to power,” he said.
Rajnath Singh dials CM over violence
Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday spoke to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan regarding recent incidents of political violence in the state and expressed the Centre’s concern over the matter. “Spoke to Kerala CM Shri Pinarayi Vijayan regarding the recent incidents of political violence in the state. He assured me of effective action,” Singh tweeted on Thursday.
On Tuesday, a crude explosive was hurled at the BJP state committee’s new office in Thiruvananthapuram. This was the latest in a series of violent incidents involving the CPM and BJP in Kerala.