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Heat on minister in Sangh shorts

New Delhi, July 28: The Prime Minister is under pressure to detoxify his own team — a minister has been accused of attending an RSS camp in regulation khaki shorts and black cap.

Sections of the Congress and the Left have begun efforts to secure the resignation of A. Narendra, a Telengana Rashtra Samiti leader and minister of state for rural development.

Andhra CPI secretary and member of Parliament Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy has said the minister attended the Sangh camp at Shamshabad in Rangareddy, near Hyderabad, on June 25.

A delegation of CPI leaders, including national secretary D. Raja and Reddy, has called on alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi on July 21 to apprise her of what they described as Narendra’s RSS links and seek his removal from the council of ministers.

Sonia did not give any assurances, but CPI leaders quoted her as saying that “I understand your sentiments”. State Congress leaders are also livid at his participation in the camp and are planning to press for his resignation.

Reacting to the controversy, Narendra said he attended the camp at the behest of K. Chandrashekhar Rao, the Telengana party leader, to explain the status of the movement for statehood.

But state Congress and CPI leaders are unconvinced. “Why brief the RSS' Who are they'” asked a CPI leader.

Narendra had quit the BJP in 2000 to join the Telengana state movement led by Rao. Both were instrumental later in founding the Telengana Rashtra Samiti, which won five Lok Sabha seats in Andhra.

State Congress leaders claimed that Narendra had been a full-time RSS worker and a pillar of the BJP in Telengana. He quit the BJP not on ideological grounds, but because it took a U-turn on Telengana statehood to placate the Telugu Desam Party.

Referring to the meeting with Sonia, CPI leader Reddy said: “I demanded that he should resign. He is a member of a secular cabinet and how could he be in the RSS'”

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