The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Wednesday removed its Goa chief, Subhash Velingkar, for "working against" the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state.
The RSS said that Velingkar was sacked because the language agitation he was leading— against the BJP-led coalition government—was taking a political turn.
The formal statement issued by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Konkan region Chief Satish Modh said that while the RSS backed the premise of the language agitation, which Velingkar and his group Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM) were leading, going political was never an option with the RSS.
"As part of the agitation, BBSM has made announcement about formation of a political party. RSS, since its inception, has never been involved in politics, and hence, RSS would have no role in the political endeavour of BBSM," Modh said.
"With this background, it has been announced in a recent meeting of senior RSS office-bearers that convenor of the BBSM Prof Subhash Velingkar has been relieved from his responsibilities as the Goa Vibhag Sanghachalak," he added.
However, Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar expressed regret over the decision, saying as a swayamsevak he would say it should not have happened.
"Velingkar has been removed from his post with immediate effect for floating a political outfit and working against the Goa government," RSS publicity head Manmohan Vaidya told IANS.
The Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM) has been demanding that regional languages (Konkani and Marathi) be made the medium of instruction in Goa's elementary schools and asking the state to stop grants of English medium schools.
Velingkar was removed after BJP President Amit Shah complained against him to the RSS leadership, informed sources said.
Shah was shown black flags by members of the outfit during his recent visit to Goa. He was on his way to address a meeting of BJP workers near Panaji.
Former Speaker and Environment and Forest Minister Rajendra Arlekar said that Velingkar was a guru and an idol for BJP leaders in Goa, but refused to comment, when asked if he was disappointed with the state RSS chief removal.
"See I have said again and again. RSS is an organisation which is competent to take their own decisions. To all of us he is a (Guru). There is no other guru in RSS (in Goa). He has been our idol," Arlekar said.
A day earlier, Velingkar said that the BJP may not win the next state assembly elections since it had "betrayed" the electorate's trust by going back on its promise to back the use of regional languages as a medium of instruction in the state's primary schools.
"This government should not be too sure that they are going to be back in power after the elections, because they have betrayed the trust of the people in the issue of regional languages," he told a press conference.
Velingkar, also said that the BBSM, along with the RSS unit in Goa, were in the process of floating a new regional party to defeat the BJP in the state polls, which are likely to be held in March 2017.
Velingkar and the BBSM are protesting against, what they claim are, anti-regional languages policies of the BJP-led coalition government, especially its failure to cut government grants to schools operated by a society run by the influential Roman Catholic Church, where English is the medium of instruction.
"The BBSM will float a new political party to contest the forthcoming elections," Velingkar said, adding that the RSS cadre would be backing the new political outfit, whose agenda would be to ensure that education in primary schools, which avail financial grants from the state government will be conducted in regional languages of Konkani and Marathi.
He also did not rule out a tie-up with the regional Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, currently an alliance partner in the state government, if they quit the ruling coalition by September 30.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has said it will contest the Goa elections, had been using Velingkar's criticism of the state government in its campaign.
Velingkar has not commented on his removal yet.