The RSS’s Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal meeting that concluded in Ranchi on Sunday paid tributes to Kannada scholar and rationalist M M Kalburgi, among other “eminent persons who died recently”. The killing of Kalburgi that remains unsolved is one of the reasons behind the recent return of awards by eminent artistes, who have questioned the government silence over it.
RSS all-India Prachar Pramukh Manmohan Vaidya told The Indian Express, “On the first day of the meeting, we paid tributes to eminent persons who died recently.”
Apart from Kalburgi, the list that had 80-odd names included former president A P J Abdul Kalam, Gandhian Narayan Desai, ex-Congress chief minister J B Patnaik, RPI leader R S Gavai, BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmia, musician M S Viswanathan, Hindu Mahasabha leader Himani Savarkar, and President Pranab Mukherjee’s wife Suvra.
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The RSS meeting also denied that the Sangh had sought a review of the reservation policy.
Addressing a press conference Sunday, RSS No. 2 Sarkaryavah Suresh Joshi said, “Arakshan ki jab tak samaj men avashyakta hai, tab tak chalta rahe. Yahi hamara kehna hai (Reservation can continue as long as it is needed in society. That’s our stand).”
During a recent interview with RSS journals Panchjanya and Organiser, RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat had said that a committee should be set up to decide which categories require reservation.
Joshi said, “Whatever was said (by Bhagwat) was not presented in proper words. Nowhere it was said that there should be a review of the reservation policy. It is compulsory for society.”
Asked about reservation in the context of its implementation, Joshi said if there was any loophole, it could be plugged. “So long reservation is required for the society, it should continue. This is what we have said repeatedly.”
The RSS has long demanded constitution of a committee of non-political persons to review reservations. Even Bhagwat in his interview said, “Form a committee of people genuinely concerned about the interest of the whole nation and committed to social equality. They should decide which categories require reservation, and for how long.”
At the Sunday meeting, the RSS also denounced charges against it over recent incidents such as the Dadri lynching, saying “the Sangh is unnecessarily being put in the dock as part of a conspiracy. We have always condemned such incidents because such incidents are not good for the society.”
The Sangh had faced such “baseless” accusations earlier also, Joshi said. “The RSS, which maintains respect for all, is being wrongly blamed. It is deplorable.”
Noting that “Hindus always take others along”, he added, “Attempts are being made by some forces in the country to put the Hindu community in the dock… The RSS has been working in the social sector for the last 90 years. There is a need to view RSS works from a positive perspective.”
RSS sources played down the inclusion of Kalburgi’s name in the list, saying the Sangh paid tribute to even leaders belonging to parties opposed to it.
A Sahitya Akademi award winner, Kalburgi was shot dead at home in north Karnataka by two motorcycle-borne assailants, in an attack similar to that on rationalists such as Narendra Dhabolkar and Govind Pansare. Over the years, Kalburgi had had run-ins with radical elements within his own Lingayat community and the Hindutva fringe over his writing and speeches.
The three-day meeting of the RSS Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal is held twice a year and is attended by almost all its seniormost leaders. In a break from tradition, it was decided that leaders would be holding press conferences in all the states to talk about the meeting.