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The BBC's Mike Wooldridge in Delhi
"The RSS is closely linked to the BJP, the party at the head of India's governing coalition"
 real 28k

Thursday, 24 February, 2000, 13:03 GMT
Parliament row over Hindu hardliners

protest
Sonia Gandhi (left) led a sit-in in the precincts of parliament


The Indian parliament has adjourned in chaos after opposition MPs protested against what they say is the growing political influence of the Hindu nationalist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Opposition members chanted anti-government slogans in protest at a decision to allow civil servants in the states of Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh to join the RSS.

RSS members RSS members are accused of promoting intolerance
"Remove the RSS, save the country," the opposition deputies shouted.

Earlier, the opposition, led by Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, held a sit-in in the parliament compound to protest against the RSS.

'Hidden agenda'

The opposition expressed fears that the RSS would penetrate all levels of government and the civil service.

"It is regrettable that they (BJP-led government) are pursuing the hidden agenda. We will fight to the last," Sonia Gandhi said.

The RSS has links with the Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and opponents allege that it influencess the government's political agenda.

Its critics say it is an umbrella organisation for Hindu extremists seeking to alter India's secular society.


We will fight to the last
Sonia Gandhi
The RSS says it is a social and cultural organisation and not a political one.

But the opposition accuses the organisation of promoting intolerance against Muslims and Christians - a charge the RSS denies.

Controversy

The RSS issue became even more controversial when Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani hinted earlier this month that the federal government would also consider allowing its workers to join the organisation.

However, Mr Vajpayee's announced last week that there was no move to lift the ban on federal civil servants joining a political organisation.

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See also:
24 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Analysis: RSS aims for a Hindu nation
18 Jan 00 |  South Asia
Congress steps up RSS row
29 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Stormy start for Indian parliament
20 Oct 99 |  South Asia
Hardline Hindus rally against Pope
30 Sep 99 |  South Asia
India under fire over Christian rights

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