For Centre, RSS not a cultural group

RSS Mohan Bhagwat

The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh maintains that it is a cultural organisation, and not a political one. However, the Central government's views regarding the RSS has remained unchanged since 1966 and participation in its activities is restricted for government employees, though it's not the case in Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.

In response to RTI application filed by The Indian Express, Department of Personnel and Training confirmed that "any government servant, who is a member of or is otherwise associated with the organisations (RSS and Jamaat-e-Islami) or with their activities is liable to disciplinary action". It confirmed that this provision was added in the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules-1964 in 1966 and is "still applicable". As per the rules, "No government servant shall be a member of, or be otherwise associated with any political party or any organisation which takes part in politics." And there has been no change in this stand of the government even when "swayamsewaks" were ruling at the Centre during 1998-2004.

The DoPT clarified that it "has not issued any instructions regarding state government employees".

In MP and HP, the BJP governments held a different view. In Himachal, the previous BJP government withdrew the "memorandum (of restricting its employees from participating in RSS activities) with immediate effect" on January 24, 2008. In MP, the BJP government issued a clarification on August 21, 2006 that "restrictions are not applicable on RSS".

Both the governments have provided copies of related circulars to The Indian Express in response to RTI query.

Queries were also marked to Jharkhand, Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Delhi governments, but they failed to provide any information.

Interestingly, the Centre's list of organisations with whom the association of its employees is restricted has many obsolete groups. From 1980 to 1983, employees were restricted to be associated with 58 other organisations, which remain unchanged. These include organisations associated with Anand Marg and those with regional and linguistic identities.

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