Atal seal on RSS permit
Delhi in peaceful existence with China bunkers
Jaya fears bus-burning backlash
Sen slams attacks on Water
Police thrash women in Naidu raj

New Delhi, Feb. 5 
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today defended the Gujarat government’s decision to lift the ban on its employees joining the RSS amid reports that the President has objected to the order.

“The RSS is not a political organisation but a cultural and social organisation,” Vajpayee stressed, speaking to reporters after inaugurating the World Book Fair here. “I don’t think objections should be raised to anybody joining it,” he said.

The Prime Minister’s remarks come in the wake of reports that President K.R. Narayanan had sought a clarification from the Centre on the Gujarat government circular allowing its employees to participate in RSS activities.

A Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesman denied the reports. He said Narayanan had only forwarded the memoranda from the Congress and other parties protesting the order, along with a covering letter.

Sources close to the Prime Minister described the covering letter as a “routine” one, which merely brought to the government’s notice that certain documents had been despatched. It did not ask any questions or seek a clarification.

But despite the denial from Raisina Hill, Vajpayee seemed to have gone out of his way to give the Keshubhai Patel government a clean chit. “The government’s stand will be made known to the President and I am confident this will satisfy him,” he told reporters.

The Gujarat notification on the lifting of the 14-year-old ban was issued last month, shortly after the BJP’s Chennai national council meet. The conclave took pains to repackage the BJP as a “soft focus, moderate party”, subscribing to the politics of consensus rather than confrontation. The Chennai declaration made it clear that the BJP had buried its own agenda for as long as it was in power and had adopted the NDA’s common manifesto, lock, stock and barrel.

The declaration was roundly criticised by hardliners as a “sellout” to powe