Award named after Gandhi to RSS outfit raises eyebrows

August 11th, 2008 - 4:54 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bharatiya Janata Party

Bhopal, Aug 11 (IANS) The Madhya Pradesh government’s decision to confer an award named after Mahatma Gandhi on Seva Bharati, an RSS outfit, has raised many an eyebrow with political parties like the Congress and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) terming the move as an insult to the great leader. Madhya Pradesh Culture Minister Laxmikant Sharma Sunday announced the state government’s prestigious Rashtriya Mahatma Gandhi Award, carrying a cash prize of Rs.1 million and a citation, will be given to Seva Bharati, New Delhi.

“Gandhi believed in serving humanity and Seva Bharati is also doing the same,” Sharma said.

While the minister said Seva Bharati works in the spirit of Gandhian philosophy and deserved the award named after the father of the nation, state Congress president Suresh Pachauri said the move only exposed the “saffron agenda” of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.

“Any award named after Mahatma Gandhi should only be conferred on an institution or a person dedicated to Gandhian principles. But the award conferred on an organisation allied to the RSS raises doubts on the intentions of the government already working on saffron agenda. It is an insult to Gandhi,” Pachauri told IANS.

CPI-M state secretary Badal Saroj said that conferring an award instituted after Mahatma Gandhi to an institution affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was ironical and an insult to Gandhi.

CPI-M state secretariat member Pramod Pradhan added: “It was unfortunate and biggest injustice done by this government in the name of Gandhi. It was also a direct attack on Gandhian principles.”

Gandhians and activists here also condemned the decision.

Eminent educationist Anil Sadgopal said conferring an award instituted in the name of Mahatma Gandhi to an institution promoting “Hindutva politics” was an insult to the great leader who believed in secular and democratic values as none else.

Gandhi Bhawan director Ramesh Chand Bhargawa, a staunch Gandhian was surprised at the move, but refused to comment and said it would not be proper to say anything without knowing who the juries were and on what criteria the decision had been taken.

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