//Dravid attends RSS function; Left unhappy

Dravid attends RSS function; Left unhappy

Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times , New Delhi, February 6, 2007

The Left parties have expressed their displeasure over Indian cricket team captain Rahul Dravid attending a function organised by an RSS-affiliated body in Nagpur in January.

On January 20, Dravid inaugurated a "surya  namaskar" (a yoga-based ritual to worship the sun) programme organised on the occasion of Makar Sankranti by Vidya Bharati, an RSS-affiliated organisation that runs a chain of schools. After lighting the lamp at a gathering in the Ramnagar area of Nagpur, Dravid went on to give a speech and asked the attending children to do 'surya namaskar' daily. It keeps the body fit, Dravid added.

Following the event, RSS mouthpiece Panchjanya  carried an article on the event complete with a picture of Dravid, flanked by RSS members, addressing the audience. The article was carried in the February 4 issue of the weekly magazine. In the issue, dated February 11, Panchjanya  again made a reference to Dravid, saying that after his participation in the January 20 programme, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh followed suit and organised a similar event.

The Left said on Tuesday that what Dravid played at the Ramnagar Maidan in Nagpur on January 20 was not cricket. Both CPIM and CPI raised objections to the fact that one of the most famous cricketers in the country is rubbing shoulders with an organisation that spreads "sectarian politics" and is "fascist in nature".

"He (Dravid) might be the Indian cricket captain but he is also an individual and an adult. In the end, it is his choice. And if his choice of company is the RSS, good luck to him. Everyone knows, that RSS promotes an ideology that is sectarian. It is his choice if he wants to be made use of by the RSS," CPIM politburo member, Brinda Karat, told HT. She added that the 'surya namaskar' is not a monopoly of the RSS and millions of Indians go through the ritual everyday.

CPI's National Secretary D Raja was more direct and said that Dravid should not have taken part in an RSS function. "Why should he take part in a function organised by RSS, which believes in a fascist and communal ideology? Why should he allow himself to be identified with RSS," Raja asked.

"I was asked to got to a function where a lot of school children were coming to talk on the benefits of yoga. I have no political leanings. Yoga is something where even the Indian cricket team does. I had no idea that this could be used for political purposes,’’ Rahul Dravid told HT from Calcutta on Tuesday evening.

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