New delhi: While captain Rahul Dravid was busy on Wednesday countering media reports about a brewing rift within Team India, he seems to have landed in a controversy on another front, when the Left parties reacted strongly to his reported presence at an RSS-organised fuction in Nagpur on January 20.
Dravid had inaugurated a 'surya-namaskar yagna' in Nagpur, home to the RSS headquarters. The event was organised by Vidya Bharati, an RSS-affiliate organisation, which runs a chain of schools.
The Indian captain also delivered a speech at the venue to students, asking them to perform 'suryanamaskar' daily as a cleansing exercise.
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.
The Left was on the frontfoot on Tuesday, saying what Dravid "played in Nagpur that day was not cricket". CPI(M) and CPI raised eyebrows on the issue for the skipper endorsing an event for 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," CPI-M politburo member Brinda Karat said.
Karat also pointed out that "surya namaskar" is not a monopoly of the RSS and millions of Indians go through the ritual every day.
While Karat emphasised Dravid's individual choice, CPI National Secretary D Raja simply said Dravid shouldn't have been there in the first place. "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 the RSS?" Raja asked.
"I was asked to go to a function where a lot of schoolchildren were coming to talk on the benefits of yoga. I have no political leanings. Yoga is something which even the Indian cricket team practises. I had no idea that this could be used for political purposes," Rahul Dravid told a Delhi newspaper from Kolkata, where the Indian team is currently based.
The BJP Government in Madhya Pradesh has triggered a row for introducing "suryanamaskar" as an optional exercise in state schools.
(With agency inputs)