Local Goa News

Friday, September 2, 2016

BJP's interference in RSS affairs not acceptable: Velingkar

A day after forming the Goa RSS prant, which the RSS headquarters has been quick to term illegal, Subhash Velingkar, the man who has stormed into history books for the unprecedented rebellion against the parivar decision, tells Vijay Desouza and Murari Shetye that this is the first time where the BJP has interfered in the RSS functioning. He laid the blame squarely on Union defence minister Manohar Parikar for his removal.
TOI: Your senior colleague Ratnakar Lele did not join you in the RSS Goa prant. Does this mean that a divide has formed in the sangh in Goa?

Velingkar: The divide is temporary. A misunderstanding has developed between us over the manner in which I was relieved, but that can be resolved.
I represent both the RSS and the BBSM. In no way did my responsibilities as Goa state RSS chief conflict with the cause of the BBSM. If social causes like this interfere with the functioning of the sangh, then headquarters should take the decision not to take up public issues.
Earlier, the BBSM had taken the decision that it would remove the Congress from power. If that was not crossing RSS boundaries, how is this? How can I be held responsible for announcing a political party aimed at ousting BJP when that too, was a BBSM decision. After all, BJP's offences are equally grave. What we abhor is that the RSS headquarters has acted under political pressure.
TOI: What do you have to say about RSS all-India prachar pramukh Manmohan Vaidya's statement that new office-bearers will be shortly announced for the Goa Vibhag? Vaidya has also termed the RSS Goa prant illegal.
Velingkar: Let them appoint new office bearers. There is no problem. We are not in conflict. Till date there has never been two sets or committees of office bearers in any prant. We have to wait and see what happens next.
TOI: When you have been relieved from the post of state RSS chief, why did you go ahead and appoint yourself Goa prant chief? Did you feel you couldn't lead the BBSM agitation without the RSS chief tag?
Velingkar: I have not appointed myself RSS Goa prant chief. It was the request of the state RSS cadre. In some agitations there are star campaigners; there is a face for such agitations. The cadre felt I should be the face of the agitation. The post of the RSS chief wields influence and draws media attention. We have no problems going back to the sangh after the 2017 assembly elections. Let the sangh then decide whether they will take us back or not. We will be happy to dissolve the prant. But, till elections, we don't want anybody to stop us from working against the BJP. While maintaining loyalty to the sangh, we have to also be faithful to society.
TOI: It appears that the RSS Goa prant does not have more youth representation?
Velingkar: I disagree. This is a youth movement. At the emergency meeting held at Bambolim after my removal, except for ten seniors like me, all others were youth.
TOI: Do you think that it is for the first time in the history of RSS that a decision was taken under political pressure?
Velingkar: Yes. The last time we worked against the Congress government (in 2011) no such decision was not taken. We feel that my removal was a pro-BJP decision as sangh members are in support of the BBSM agitation. How can RSS on the one hand say it is supporting the BBSM agitation and on the other curb the face of the agitation?
TOI: According to you, Parrikar and Union minister for road transport and highways and shipping Nitin Gadkari, who is also BJP's Goa in-charge for the 2017 assembly election, are the main persons behind your ouster.
Velingkar: Yes. We did not get confirmation that Gadkari is behind my ouster, but if BJP is defeated in the polls then Parrikar's image will be tarnished and his adamant stand over the medium of instruction (MoI) issue will be exposed. BJP will continue grants to English-medium primary schools and they will protect Parrikar. To give political protection to Parrikar they are trying various tricks. But the fact is Parrikar has cheated the people of the state over the MoI issue.
TOI: Is it not a peculiar situation that faces the sangh today? Both Parrikar and Gadkari belong to RSS. So how could those indoctrinated in the RSS ideology and principles conspire to sack a state unit chief?
Velingkar: Yes, I agree. It is something beyond explanation. When a swayamsevak joins politics, it could be because of political compulsions, but people can change once they move to the BJP. How much, varies from person to person.
TOI: When will you be announcing a political party to contest the 2017 assembly elections?
Velingkar: We are not keen on floating a party as this means we have to divert our attention from agitation to politics. But, that decision we will take on October 2. We have asked the Maharastrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) to tell us whether they will leave the BJP-led government and join the BBSM. If they tell us that they will join BBSM in January, it will not be acceptable to us. If MGP is not with the BBSM then the second option before us is to float a political party under the BBSM banner. The third option is to support independent candidates.
TOI: Is MGP your alliance choice?
Velingkar: Yes, because they have ruled the state for 17 years. Their vote bank shifted to BJP. Once again a similar vacuum has been created and the BJP vote bank can shift back to MGP. If MGP aligns with BBSM then, at this point of time, it will win at least 17 seats. If they to continue their alliance with BJP, then BBSM will put up candidates against those of the MGP.
TOI: Is floating a political party to defeat the BJP in the 2017 polls a one point agenda?
Velingkar: Today BJP is the target because they have failed to keep their promise of withdrawal of grants to 127 English-medium primary schools.
TOI: You have called Parrikar a liar over the MoI issue. Are there other issues also?
Velingkar: Today the issue is that of MoI.
TOI: Did you come to this realization about Parrikar only after 2012? You have worked with him closely for long, long before 2012. Was he a different person then or have you come to the conclusion that he is a liar only now, after the MoI issue?
Velingkar: No. In his (Parrikar's) earlier term (2000-2005) we had no complaints against him. He created problems in this term. Whatever U-turns he took, he took in this tenure, including that over the MoI. We will take up all the issues where Parrikar lied after October 2.
TOI: You have been witness to happenings on Goa's political scenario for several decades. You were closely associated with BJP leaders. What is the difference between BJP and Congress or any other political party in the state?
Velingkar: I don't see any difference between political parties. BJP and Congress have come to the same level.
TOI: Given the present crisis, do you feel chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar will change the MoI decision?
Velingkar: Parsekar does not have his own opinion. If somebody wants to be chief minister or minister in Goa, that decision lies with Parrikar. This is a situation created by the party.

TOI Goa News

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