The then RSS chief Balasaheb Deoras had supported former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s decision to impose Emergency in 1975, Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan claimed here today. He claimed that Deoras had “apologised” later, after the Sangh was banned during that period. Deoaras was the third chief of the RSS from 1973, succeeding Golwalkar. Chavan was addressing a press conference a day after the BJP-led NDA government in Maharashtra announced monthly pension for those jailed during the Emergency for varying periods. The Congress leader termed the decision of the Maharashtra government as “improper and a “dishonour to freedom fighters”.
He asked, “The state government should exclude those associated with the RSS from this pension scheme. What is the purpose behind claiming the pension when the Sangh head had supported the Emergency and apologised after the organisation was banned during the period?” The state government yesterday decided to award a monthly pension of Rs 10,000 to those who were jailed during the Emergency period for more than a month and Rs 5000 to those who were jailed for less than a month.
The decision is a government gesture to honour these persons for their struggle to fight for democracy during the 21-month Emergency period from 1975 to 1977. Emergency, considered as the darkest chapter in Indian democracy, was imposed by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975. Opposing the decision to award pension, Chavan said Emergency cannot be compared to freedom struggle against the British.
“It is improper to give pension to those who spent a month in jail during Emergency. Emergency cannot be compared to the freedom struggle against the British. This (decision) amounts to dishonouring freedom fighters associated with the Independence struggle,” he said. Chavan said the RSS never participated in the freedom struggle.
Meanwhile, NCP spokesman Nawab Malik sought to know the view of the Shiv Sena, a constituent of the BJP-led government, on the pension decision. “If Shiv Sena supports the decision, it means late Bal Thackeray was wrong in supporting Emergency. Emergency was imposed due to the situation prevailing that time and the Sena had stood by the government in this decision,” Malik told reporters.
“Now, the party (Sena) must clarify if it supports the Emergency pension decision and if Bal Thackeray was wrong in supporting it (emergency) in the first place,” Malik said. Taking a swipe at the government, he said it should clarify whether it will give pension to smugglers as well who were jailed during the Emergency period.