BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh allows state officials to join RSS

Fuelling the fears of a 'saffronisation' of the Indian polity that have worried most Hindus as well as the minorities since Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party-led government came to power at the Centre last year, Chhattisgarh's ruling BJP government has allowed government employees to join its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

This, despite a state rule for government staff that prohibits them from participating in politics. "No government servant shall be member of, or be otherwise associated with, any political party or any organisation which takes part in politics nor shall he take part in, subscribe in aid of, or assist in any other manner, any political movement or activity," it says.

But an order issued last week makes an exception of the blatantly minority-bashing RSS, which describes itself as a social organisation but is known to advise the BJP politically. Its idea of Hinduism is closer to the Taliban's fanatical pursuit of radical intolerance towards other faiths than to the Hindu scriptures.

The new order, with the subject line "... regarding participation of government servants in activities of RSS," said, the "restriction does not apply to RSS''.

The ban on government officials participating in political activities was enforced long before Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000. In Madhya Pradesh, also ruled by the BJP, the same restriction was eased for the RSS a few years back.

The opposition in the state was quick to blast the ''anti-democratic'' move. The Congress in Chhattisgarh accused the Raman Singh government of trying to politicise the administration and "indoctrinate" the bureaucracy.

"The move will dilute the difference between government and a political party. RSS has been claiming to be a social-service apolitical outfit, but everyone is well aware of the fact that they are running the BJP from the back seat. This will harm the democratic process," T S Singhdeo, leader of the opposition in the state assembly, told the Press Trust of India.