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Sangh axe on leader in live-in relationship

New Delhi, March 12: A high-ranking RSS official has been sacked after he was found to be in a live-in relationship, considered as heresy in an organisation that makes celibacy mandatory for its whole-timers.

K.C. Kannan was a joint general secretary, which placed him third in the hierarchy after the sarsanghachalak and the deputy sarsanghachalak.

Although Kannan recently married the lady, he was stripped of all organisational responsibilities at the end of a Sangh convention in Bangalore last week.

It was clarified that Kannan could not continue even as a pracharak (whole-timer in Sangh lexicon), reviving questions whether the organisation should not reinvent itself to keep pace with modern times and attract young supporters.

Kannan was from Kerala and regarded as a “leader of promise”.

The RSS leaders were apparently “offended” by a perception that Kannan concealed the relationship that reportedly began after the lady divorced her husband. Her former husband is the brother of Kerala filmmaker, Major A.K. Ravindran, better known as Major Ravi. The former officer was part of the mission that hunted down the suspects in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

The RSS annual report placed at the delegates’ meeting rejected gay and live-in relationships and claimed that they violated the “spirit” of India’s “dharmic values”.

Asked about Kannan’s ouster, Sangh spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya said: “His father was ailing for a while and he wanted to look after him. He expressed a wish to be relieved of his responsibilities.” Queried on his marriage, Vaidya replied: “I do not know.”

The RSS’s commandments decree that a pracharak should remain single, celibate and maintain little or no contact with his family — almost as though he has entered vanaprastha or the stage of a hermit but without passing through the second phase of a grihastha or domestic life.

If a pracharak wishes to marry, the Sangh does not oppose his choice. But he ceases to be part of the organisation and if he desires, he is sent to an affiliate outfit that is less rigid.

For instance, when L.K. Advani opted to marry, the RSS raised no objections. Advani moved seamlessly from the Sangh to the BJP (then the Jana Sangh).

However, when there was a whiff of controversy over K.N. Govindacharya’s alleged relationship with Uma Bharti, the episode was inflated out of proportion. The controversy considerably undermined Govindacharya’s standing in the BJP, although nothing was eventually substantiated.

Indeed, the parivar is so squeamish about personal scandals that it was forced to send one of its favourite pracharaks, Sanjay Joshi, temporarily to Coventry after a tape allegedly showing him in a sexual relationship with a woman was circulated during a BJP meeting. Joshi was then in the BJP.

Later, the tape was found to be “doctored”.

Over the years, there has been a demand in the RSS to relax the moral dos and don’ts in keeping with the times. The bosses pretend as though they have heard nothing, said sources.