Cong targets award to RSS outfit, forgets it honoured it too Milind Ghatwai Posted online: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 at 0108 hrs

Source: Indian Express

Milind Ghatwai

Bhopal, August 12: In criticising the BJP-ruled state Government’s decision to confer the Mahatma Gandhi Award on RSS-affiliated organisation Seva Bharti, the Congress party seems to have scored a self goal.

The oldest national party has itself felicitated the Delhi-based organisation at the hands of Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit for improving the lot of street children and also doing a commendable job in slums in 2004.

The MP Government had on Sunday announced its decision to give its biggest national award, which carries a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh, to the voluntary organisation “for working according to Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy”.

But the mere association of Gandhi and RSS saw PCC president Suresh Pachauri and campaign committee chairman Rahul Singh slam the award and call it an insult to the father of the

“It’s a big joke on Gandhian philosophy,” Singh said. “Giving the award to an NGO affiliated with the RSS is an insult to Gandhiji,” Pachauri told The Indian Express. When reminded that his own party had feted the NGO, Pachauri said he was not aware of it.

Incidentally, the organisation has also received the prestigious Dr Durgabai Deshmukh Award given by the Central Social Welfare Board in 2001, when the NDA was in power. The award given for exemplary work in the field of women’s development carries a prize of Rs 5 lakh.

The NGO’s general secretary Rishipal Dadwal said the organisation was active in Delhi’s slums for a long time and had done sufficient work to become eligible for the award. “When the Congress party has felicitated us in Delhi, the criticism in Madhya Pradesh is not justified.” He said the organisation believed in Gandhian thought, which laid stress on self-reliance.

According to him, more than 2,500 volunteers are active in the national capital alone. Ironically, the Congress has found an ally in Bhopal-based Seva Bharti, which has taken offence to the state Government’s decision to ignore the local unit at the cost of an organisation “which gets several awards”.

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