The troubled relation between the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is all set to escalate to a serious level with the State government’s plan to ban ‘shakhas’ in temples throughout the State.
Shakhas are the Sangh’s physical training and learning groups. With more than 5,000 of them, Kerala has the maximum number of shakhas in the country. Any move to restrict the activities of these shakhas is likely to witness strong objection from the Sangh Parivar.
The order, which was drafted by the Devaswom Board, is on the basis of the Kerala Police Act that prohibits the conducting or facilitation of self-defense sessions without legal licence. The order is being scrutinised by the Law Department and awaiting final clearance from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Temple Affairs Minister Kadakampally Surendran has openly criticised the RSS for using temples as storehouses of weapons and indulging in arms training. He wrote on his Facebook page, “I have received plenty of complaints about its unauthorised activities in temples managed by the Devaswom Boards. The government will take stern action. We cannot allow places of worship to become centers of anti-social activities that will destroy the secular characteristics of society and peaceful co-existence of the people.”
Even though the Sangh Parivar representatives declined to comment on the issue, they are of the opinion that the cadre will not allow the LDF government’s strategy to weaken the RSS in the State. BJP State general secretary K. Surendran spoke to The Kochi Post.
“The reasons that the LDF government state to ban the activities of the shakhas is absurd because none of them have indulged in arms training and no temples have been used to store weapons till date,” he says.
He added that the CPI (M) is afraid that the BJP would make way to the Hindu vote bank as they have direct access to Hindu worship places through RSS.
On the other hand CPI (M) MLA M. Swaraj is of the opinion that it is the Dewaswom Board that has taken the decision and it has also provided clear reasons for the same. He said that the Law Department is responsible to evaluate the situation and if the explanations put forward by the Sangh Parivar are true and honest, then the final decision will also be in their favour.
“There wouldn’t be smoke without fire,” he added.
According to sources, the government is exploring the possibility of bringing the Kshetra Samrakshana Samiti and similar organisations under its ambit. The Samiti has nearly 500 temples under its control and is also closely associated with as many as 3,000 others in Kerala. The RSS is believed to wield considerable influence on the Samiti. The need to be thorough about the legal sanctity of the order seems to be the reason why the government is taking time.
Main photograph by Ganesh Dhamodkar, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.