New Delhi: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is of the view that the state BJP should have shown greater restraint and patience in dealing with the hijab issue in Karnataka and should have let it be handled at the local level, ThePrint has learnt.
Students in Karnataka have petitioned against an order issued by the BJP-led government in the state, obliquely allowing educational institutions to ban hijabs in classrooms. The Karnataka High Court is currently hearing the petitions.
According to sources in RSS, the hijab issue is also likely to be taken up in the Pratinidhi Sabha, the annual meeting of top RSS officer-bearers from across the country, which is scheduled to be held between 11 and 13 March.
“It was a local issue and was being handled locally by the educational institute, teachers, students and parents. They were managing it. We were also keen that the matter should have been dealt with at the local level. Rather it got escalated and spread to other states because of the way everyone functioned,” said a senior RSS functionary.
Another RSS functionary said that the state unit of the BJP could have handled the situation more sensitively and should have kept itself out of it. “Saiyam se kaam lena chaiye tha. Situation jo aaj hai aisi nahi hoti. (They should have handled the situation by displaying greater restraint and patience. The situation wouldn’t have been like this then.) It only gave opportunity to the Popular Front of India (PFI) to further its agenda,” claimed the functionary.
More power to PFI?
Sources said the RSS is concerned that the issue has not only escalated to other states, but it will provide a window to the PFI, an Islamic outfit, to expand its network. “They will now use this incident to spread their tentacles in other parts of the country. They will also try and use the hijab issue to further its agenda,” the source added.
Ever since the hijab row broke out in Karnataka’s educational institutions, the PFI has been all over the news. The organisation and its affiliates have been accused of orchestrating the protest by Muslim students over the right to wear a hijab in classrooms and of fomenting communal unrest for political capital.
Earlier this month, when a Bajrang Dal activist who had taken part in the protest against hijab by Hindu students and groups was killed, the Vishva Hindu Parishad(VHP) and some BJP leaders had blamed the PFI for the alleged murder.
However, according to sources, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who is facing his biggest test as CM in the hijab row, has got support from the central leadership, despite concerns that the issue may impact PM Modi’s image in the international community.
Sources in the BJP also admitted that, the potential electoral gains for the BJP notwithstanding (because of polarisation), the hijab row “should have been handled at the local level”.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)