RSS ideology finds strong influence in BJP-ruled Haryana as state govt appoints Sangh leaders to key positions

Since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in Haryana in 2014, the government has been accused of pushing a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-backed ideology in all societal aspects, including education. From the setting up of research chairs in universities to appointments being made in the education sector, a strong RSS influence seems to be guiding education policies in the state.

State education minister Ram Bilas Sharma trying to rope in controversial RSS ideologue Dinanath Batra to revamp the state syllabus is only one of several examples where the government has been criticised for trying to saffronise education in Haryana. Books penned by Batra are known to recast Indian history through a Hindu perspective.

Though the Haryana government refrained from using Batra’s textbooks in schools, moral education books for students were developed under his guidance. The books include verses from the Gita and lessons on yoga.

RSS ideology finds strong influence in BJP-ruled Haryana as state govt appoints Sangh leaders to key positions

File image of Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar. PTI

Sharma said he plans to have the Gayatri Mantra added during morning prayers in schools. “The inclusion of Gita shlokas has shown positive results and greatly helped students learn more moral values,” he said.

Criticising the proposal, Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee president Ashok Tanwar said, “Earlier, it was the Gita and now the Gayatri Mantra. The government should stop diverting and focus on quality education, improving academic ambiance and infrastructure.”

The school syllabus isn’t the only place where the Sangh ideology can be seen finding influence; after the BJP came to power, RSS workers have found themselves in influential positions in the state.

Dr Jagbir Singh was appointed as chairman of the Board of School Education, Haryana, to improve efficiency after a major question paper leak for the teachers’ eligibility exam (HTET) brought embarrassment to the government in 2015. However, his tenure has been marked with controversies, including a goof-up while announcing Class 10 board results in 2017.

Another RSS ideologue BK Kuthiala was recently appointed the chairperson of the Haryana State Higher Education Council despite allegations of irregularities on him during his tenure at Guru Jambeshwar University, Hisar, and Kurukshetra University (KU), Kurukshetra. Ashutosh Mishra, a former faculty member at KU, had requested the government to reconsider its decision of appointing Kuthalia, alleging irregularities against him during his tenure at KU.

While Sharma acknowledges that the government comes from a Sangh background, he maintains that the appointments were not based on political affiliations. “All appointees have the necessary qualifications required for the job,” the state education minister said.

But Opposition parties allege that the government is giving important portfolios to people close to the RSS. Party sources said Vijay Kayat, the newly appointed vice-chancellor of Chaudhary Devi Lal University in Sirsa, was vying for a Lok Sabha ticket in the 2014 elections but as the plan did not materialise, he was compensated with the appointment.

Accusing the Manohar Lal Khattar government of working on an RSS agenda, former home minister and senior Congress leader Subhash Batra said, “They (the BJP) have a committee that closely analyses the bureaucracy and favours those working on RSS lines. What could be more dangerous for a state than top officials of the most important hospital, PGIMS Rohtak, being appointed due to their RSS-connect?”

Among other appointments that have raised questions due to the appointees’ closeness to the RSS is that of Captain Bhupinder Singh as officer on special duty to the chief minister. Singh is the son of RSS sangchalak Major Kartar Singh (retd). Jawahar Yadav’s appointment as chairman of the Haryana housing board has also raised eyebrows due to his close association with the Sangh. Besides, Opposition parties have argued that Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Yashpal Singhal (retd), who was severely criticised for his failure as the state’s DGP in controlling the violent 2016 Jat agitation in the state, was appointed as Chief Information Commissioner after his retirement due to his family’s association with the RSS.

The growing influence of RSS-backed Hindu ideology in the state’s education sector can also be seen in the setting up of research chairs on saffron stalwarts. At Maharshi Dayanand University Rohtak, a research chair set up on Ranbir Hooda, a freedom fighter and father of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, has been made almost non-existential, while a new research chair on RSS and BJP leader Mangal Sein has been set up. Similarly, the Central University of Haryana, Mahendragarh, has set up a research chair on Hindu leader and founder of Arya Samaj Swami Dayanand Saraswati. Another research chair on RSS stalwart Deen Dayal Upadhyay is on the cards at Kurukshetra University.

“Law and order in Haryana is in shambles. Four women are being raped everyday in the state. But for this government, it is more important to organise events like Gita Jayanti, Saraswati Mohotsav etc. They are wasting the hard earned money of taxpayers to make RSS happy by organizing worthless events,” said Subhash Batra.

The author is a member of The NewsCart, a Bengaluru-based media startup.

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Updated Date: Apr 15, 2018 14:03:49 IST

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