Mumbai: In a significant development for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Goa, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Wednesday said that it was reliving its Goa unit chief Subhash Velingkar of his responsibilities after Velingkar announced that he would float a new political party to contest the Goa assembly elections against the incumbent BJP.

RSS All India Prachar Pramukh Manmohan Vaidya confirmed this saying the RSS was not a political organization. “One cannot remain in the RSS and carry out political activities. Since Velingkar has announced that he would launch a new political party, the RSS needs to relieve him of his responsibilities," Vaidya said. Vaidya denied that Velingkar had been sacked for making anti-BJP statements adding that even those RSS workers who formally wanted to join the BJP had to resign their RSS responsibilities.

“RSS is not a political organization but its members are free to carry out political activities if they want but only after they have formally separated from the RSS," Vaidya said.

Velingkar has been vocal against the BJP in Goa especially on the issue of medium or the language of instruction in Goa elementary schools aided by the government. In 2012, he was instrumental in leading a campaign for making Konkani and Marathi the medium of instruction in all government-aided schools in Goa instead of English as the medium of instruction.

BJP in 2012 supported Konkani and Marathi as the medium of instruction in Goa’s 1,091 government-aided schools, and even led a sustained campaign with the Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM) that Velingkar was associated with.

“We made an electoral promise that if voted to power we would give government grants to only those schools which had Konkani and Marathi as the medium of instruction and not English. We have not been able to fully honour that promise and Velingkar has been critical of this failure," said a Goa BJP legislator who did not wish to be named. This legislator, however, also insisted that Velingkar had become “too ambitious" and he did not carry much of RSS or BJP support with him. “He has been personal in this fight and that has not left him with many supporters," the BJP legislator said.

The medium of instruction debate in Goa has assumed political overtones after BBSM, which has a tacit RSS support, started openly criticizing the BJP government for also giving grants to English medium schools. The English-medium schools mobilized themselves under the banner of Forum for Children’s Right to Education (FORCE). After coming to power, the then BJP chief minister and currently the defence minister Manohar Parrikar announced that the government would continue to give grants to those schools which had shifted to Konkani and Marathi as their medium of instruction prior to June 2011."

BBSM took this as a breach of promise and launched an open attack against the BJP, in particular Parrikar," the BJP legislator said.

Velinkgar did not respond to calls made on his mobile phone.

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