Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Monday recalled his close association with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) since 1986 and asked as to why he cannot have friendly relations with the outfit.
Khan said there are people in various Raj Bhavans in the country who are openly and officially affiliated with the RSS. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had said that he was first a swayamsevak and Jawaharlal Nehru had invited the organisation to the Republic Day parade, so what was the problem if he visited RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.
He was responding to a query by reporters as to why he met Bhagwat recently in Thrissur when the RSS chief was in the southern State.
“Is RSS a banned organisation?” he asked.
The Governor was speaking at a press conference held by him at Raj Bhavan earlier in the day to release a video-clip of him being heckled at a Kannur University event in 2019 and the letters exchanged between him and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on the functioning of the universities.
Khan said his association or relation with the RSS started in 1986 when it supported him in the Shah Bano case.
Khan was a Minister of State in the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1986 but he resigned over the government’s stand in the Shah Bano case.
Shah Bano was a Muslim woman from Indore. Divorced in 1978, she filed a criminal suit and won the right to alimony from her husband. Her husband had challenged the lower court’s order in the Supreme Court which upheld the lower court’s order.
However, the then Rajiv Gandhi government brought a Bill – Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 in Parliament to reverse the judgment.
Khan had openly opposed the government’s decision to bring a Bill in Parliament to reverse the Supreme Court’s order that the victim of the triple talaq has right to demand maintenance from her ex-husband under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 which applies to all citizens regardless of caste or religion.
Along with the RSS, E M S Namboodiripad — the first Chief Minister of Kerala — also supported him back then, he said.
“But after Namboodiripad, the Left changed its stance. They became supporters of the personal law board. RSS, however, consistently supported me. The Left supported me only till 1991. So if they (left) change, I cannot be held responsible for that,” he said.
Khan said that when he was in Thrissur he came to know that Bhagwat was also there and therefore, he went to meet him and to wish him well.
“If he is there again, I will go and meet him,” Khan added.
In an apparent dig at the ruling Left front, he said there are those who adhere to or are loyal to a foreign ideology which permits use of force and therefore, what was unusual if he is friendly with the RSS.
“If you have the right to be loyal to an ideology, which has not originated in India, which believes in use of force, I do not have the right to have friendship with the RSS?” “The ideology is not the problem. Problem is the action borne out of that ideology,” he said.
Referring to the killings in Kannur, Khan asked whose responsibility was it to prevent it from happening.
“Who failed in their duty?” he asked.
Khan had met Bhagwat on September 17.