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RSS first announces its lecture series at Vigyan Bhawan, asks for permission later

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RSS plan to hold the event at a govt convention centre has raised eyebrows; urban affairs ministry says permissions to NGOs are quite common.

New Delhi: BJP’s ideological parent, the RSS, has announced that it will hold a three-day lecture series starting 17 September at Vigyan Bhawan, a government convention centre, without even bothering to wait for the necessary permissions.

Situated in the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi, Vigyan Bhawan comes under the domain of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. According to the ministry, the application from RSS was received on 28 August — a day after the Sangh made the announcement at a press conference — and is still “being processed”.

Also read: Rahul Gandhi is right: India’s RSS is a lot like the Muslim Brotherhood

The RSS has applied for booking hall number 6, which can accommodate 350-400 people.

With the aim of explaining its ideology to a wider section, the Sangh has decided to organise the three-day event, which will be addressed by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, among others.

The RSS, a Right-wing organisation, said it will invite all parties, including the Congress, to the lecture series, ‘Future of Bharat: An RSS’ perspective’.

“The RSS’ Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat ji will address and interact with select audience comprising prominent citizens…in a three-day lecture series,” the Sangh said in a press release issued on 27 August.

“This will be held at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi from September 17 to September 19, 2018,” the release read.

This is the first time the RSS is organising an event at Vigyan Bhawan. The Sangh claimed it had checked the venue availability before announcing the dates and was confident of getting permission.

“I’m not sure if we applied for permission before making the announcement or not. But please remember this will be addressed by Mohan Bhagwat ji, who is a big personality. If we haven’t got permission yet, we will in a day or two,” said Rajiv Tuli, Delhi RSS Prachar Pramukh.

Also read: Rahul Gandhi needs to learn from RSS if he has to defeat BJP

“We obviously checked that the hall is free on those dates, and only then did we announce the venue. We are confident we will get it. We have followed the due process,” he added.

The fact that RSS is planning an event at Vigyan Bhawan, which is synonymous with government/PSU functions, has also raised eyebrows. The ministry, however, has clarified there is nothing unusual about this and that granting such permissions is routine.

“Permissions to non-governmental organisations are common. These permissions are granted on a routine basis,” Hardeep Singh Puri, minister of state for housing and urban affairs (independent charge), told ThePrint.

“We also give the venue to bodies such as chambers of commerce, among others,” Puri added.

Tuli claimed RSS is not the “first NGO” to hold an event at Vigyan Bhawan.

“There is a misconception that the venue is meant only for sarkari functions. You can take out a list of all those private organisations which have held events there in the past,” he said.

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