Pranab Mukherjee at RSS event: Former President visits RSS founder KB Hedgewar’s residence

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New Delhi | Updated: June 7, 2018 5:20:02 PM

Pranab Mukherjee at RSS meet LIVE in Nagpur: The former President who will be present as the chief guest at the Sangh Shiksha Varg, will address the 700-cadre strong audience.

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Former President Pranab Mukherjee will today attend an RSS meet at Sangh headquarters in Nagpur where he will address a 700-cadre strong audience. The RSS has invited Mukherjee as the chief guest at outfit’s Sangh Shiksha Varg (a graduation ceremony). Althoug a former President is considered above party lines, his decision to visit Nagpur has triggered a massive political debate, leaving several Congress leaders including his daughter Sharmistha uncomfortable. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the RSS, on the other hand, have trained guns at the Congress for averse views over Mukherjee’s attendance at the right-wing organisation’s programme. Pranab Mukherjee arrived in Nagpur last evening where he was received by RSS leaders including Sahsarkaryawah K Bhagayya, RSS Akhil Bharatiya Sahsampark Pramukh Sunil Deshpande, Nagpur Mahanagar Sanghchslak Rajesh Loya and Atul Moghe at the airport. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat met Pranab Mukherjee over dinner in the Raj Bhavan later in the evening. Today afternoon, the two will meet again over lunch. The graduation ceremony of the RSS will be held at 6:30 pm at the RSS headquarters where Mukherjee will address a 700-cadre strong audience. His speech will be followed by an address of Mohan Bhagwat.

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Mukherjee visits RSS founder Hedgewar’s residence

Former president Pranab Mukherjee visited the residence of RSS founder KB Hedgewar in Nagour ahead of addressing the 700-pracharaks of the Sangh.

Valedictory program of Tritiya Varsh Sangh Shiksha Varg, Nagpur would be telecast Live on FB from 6:30 pm today via https://t.co/t1zYhjln9C pic.twitter.com/EeNUKQdNbH

— RSS (@RSSorg) June 7, 2018

Mohan Bhagwat skips lunch with Mukherjee

According to media reports, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has skipped lunch with former President Pranab Mukherjee at Raj Bhavan. Reports suggest that Bhagwat and Mukherjee are likely to meet over dinner at RSS headquarters after the scheduled programme.

Former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh and Congress leader said that Pranab Mukherjee is free to fo wherever he wans to. “I am sure that Pranab Mukherjee won’t say anything in Nagpur which isn’t in favour of the nation. In fact whatever he says will be in favour of country. I have no issues with him attending that event.”

Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit said that Pranab Mukherjee used to say that the ‘RSS is a bad’ and the ‘worst organisation in the country’. “Its leaders have no morals and RSS is corrupt and spreads lies. He (Mukherjee) has also said that the RSS is anti-national, unpatriotic and communal. If the RSS has invited a person with such views, does this mean that the RSS admits that his (Pranab’s) views about the organisation were correct.”

What RSS activists say

Atul Pingle, prachar pramukh of the RSS (Vidarbha region), said that Pranab Mukherjee has been invited for a first-hand look at the RSS’ work because he had often evinced interest in its functioning. Former RSS spokesman and ideologue MG Vaidya said that this was not the first time “a prominent figure from outside” would be attending an event organised by the RSS. He said that in 1934, Mahatma Gandhi had attended a Sangh Shibir at Wardha and held discussions on the country’s future with RSS founder KB Hedgewar. Buddhist spiritual leader Dalai Lama, former Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson Rajabhau Khobragade and veteran journalist Arun Shourie are some of the prominent personalities who attended RSS events in the past.

Would not have accepted invitation, says Khurshid

Former Union minister and senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid said that would not have accepted the invitation. “If I were in his place I wouldn’t go, but then this is up to him. RSS should also practise what they preach. I have personally been a victim of their intolerance and they have different yardsticks,” News18 quoted him as saying.

Mukherjee’s decision ‘not wrong’: Sushilkumar Shinde

Former Union minister and senior Congress leader Sushilkumar Shinde had earlier told PTI that Pranab Mukherjee’s decision to accept an invite to attend an RSS event was ‘not wrong’ as he was a secular person and a good thinker. “Pranab Mukherjee is a secular person. He will always put forth a secular view which he will do there (at the RSS event) as well. He is a very good thinker, and his going there and speaking on that platform is very important,” Shinde said.

RSS a part of mainstream: Rakesh Sinha

RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha rubbished opposition party’s remark that the Sangh is not a part of the mainstream. Singh said that the organisation that has produced 2 PMs, whose member are member of 20 states, is a part of the mainstream. “Today RSS has over 50,000 shakhas at over 37,000 places in the country, 1.70 lakh socio-economic projects… thousands people are working for the nation after leaving their home and family. There are two type of discourse in country – one is based on binary and bitterness; second one that RSS has been trying to infuse in democracy is equality, you learn to listen people who are you critic. The Congress and other organisations are suffering from ‘vikhandan’… they believe in creating perception and criticising organisations and then create polarisation. This is basically for Muslim vote banks.”

Also Read: Why Pranab Mukherjee’s presence at RSS meet shouldn’t surprise anyone: A look at his ‘happy moments’ with the right wing

About RSS graduation ceremony

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh holds training camps for all the three years of the Sangh Shiksha Varg. The first year camps are for the beginners that consist activities spanning for a period of 20 days. The camps are held in each 42 state units (prants). The second year camps, also for 20 days, are organised at kshetra level. The RSS has 11 kshetras comprising numbers of prants. The Sangh Shiksha Varg of the RSS is an annual event of the right-wing outfit held at the headquarters in Nagpur. Started way back in 1927, it was initially called Officers’ Training Camp (OTC) but later it was renamed as Sangh Shiksha Varg. According to the RSS, it follows a principle of inviting people from different backgrounds for its annual event.

Also Read: What is the Sangh Shiksha Varg? Who have been the chief guests earlier?

Kerala Congress leader asks Mukherjee not to attend RSS event

Senior Kerala Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala had last week written a letter to Pranab Mukherjee, urging him to refrain from attending the event. Chennithala, Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly, had said that Pranab Mukherjee’s decision had come as a ‘rude shock’ to the secular minds of the country. Chennithala said that as a person who has served as the first citizen of our country and the greatest ambassador of secularism, “I request you to reconsider your decision to attend the RSS meet on June 7.”

Pranab to visit RSS founder KB Hedgewar’s residence

According to TV reports, former president Pranab Mukherjee will visit RSS founder KB Hedgewar’s residence in Nagpur before attending the event at Sangh headquarters. KB Hedgewar had founded the RSS in 1925 in Nagpur. Born in a Nagpur-based Marathi Deshastha Brahmin on 1 April, 1889, he was an active member of the Indian National Congress in 1920s. But after Hindu-Muslim riot in 1923, he became disillusioned by the policies of the Congress. he founded RSS in 1925 on Vijaydashmi. The goal was to unite all Hindus to get India free from British power and establish Hindu cultural and spiritual beliefs.

Also Read: Will secular Pranab Mukherjee be too hot to handle for RSS

Not surprise by Pranab’s decision to accept invite: RSS

The RSS has said that it was not surprised that the Congress leader accepted its invitation. In a statement issued earlier, the Sangh noted even Mahatma Gandhi had visited the RSS camp at Wardha.

Congress leader Ahmed Patel joins debate

Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Ahmed Patel too has expressed his displeasure over Pranab Mukherjee’s decision to attend an RSS event. Joining the debate, he tweeted: “I did not expect this from Pranab da!” Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken too hinted that the former President’s attendance at the Nagpur event will send wrong message. On reports that Sharmistha will join the BJP, he said, “She is a devoted Congress person and firmly believes in the ideology of Congress. She told me, that she is in politics, just because of her firm faith in the ideology of the Congress party.”

Will Mukherjee pay tribute to RSS founder KB Hedgewar?

Today is the last day of 25-day long ‘Tritiya Varsh Varg’, which is a graduation event for volunteers of the RSS from across the nation. Mukherjee will participate as the chief guest and will address the new recruits. As per the schedule, Mukherjee will leave the Raj Bhawan at 5:10 pm and will reach the venue Reshambagh ground at 5:30 pm. At 6:30 he will address the cadres. The function will conclude at 9:30 pm.All eyes will be on him to see if he pays tribute to the RSS founder KB Hedgewar and his successor MS Golwalkar, whose memorials are located on the premises.

Acceptance of multiple ideologies: Gadkari

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said that Mukherjee’s acceptance of the RSS invitation is nothing but his acceptance of multiple ideologies. Senior party leader and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said that there should be an exchange of views and political untouchability was outdated. “We should meet each other, talk to each other, respect views. The notion of political untouchability is outdated.”

Gadkari said that “those who practice this say others are communal but they are themselves communal”.

P Chidambaram’s advice to former colleague Mukherjee

Several senior Congress leaders including former Union minister P Chidambaram haave said that they hope Mukherjee will use the opportunity to tell RSS what is wrong with its ideology. “Now that he has accepted the invitation, there is no point in debating why he accepted it. The more important thing to say is, sir you have accepted invitation, please go there and tell them what is wrong with their ideology,” he had said soon after it was reported that the former President has given his consent to attend the Nagpur event.

Nagpur: Former president Pranab Mukherjee arrives at Nagpur Airport, in Maharashtra on Wednesday, June 06, 2018. Mukherjee arrived today to attend tomorrow an RSS event which hasgenerated a lot of interest and controversy over the last few days. (PTI Photo) (Story no BOM19)(PTI6_6_2018_000210B)

Sharmistha warns father Pranab

Former President Pranab Mukherjee’s daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee, who also is Delhi Congress chief spokesperson, on Wednesday warned her father against attending an RSS event at its Nagpur headquarters. She said that Mukherjee by going to Nagpur will give BJP and RSS an opportunity to “plant false stories, and spread rumours, like that she was joining the BJP”. Rubbishing rumours of her joining the BJP, she said, “In the mountains enjoying a beautiful sunset and suddenly this news that I’m supposedly joining BJP hits like a torpedo!” She said that ‘hope Mukherjee now realises from today’s incident, how BJP dirty tricks dept operates’. “Even RSS wouldn’t believe that you are going to endorse its views in your speech. But the speech will be forgotten, visuals will remain and those will be circulated with fake statements,” Sharmistha said in a series of tweets.

“Mukherjee by going to Nagpur, you are giving BJP/RSS full handle two plant false stories, spread falls rumours as today and making it somewhat believable. And this is just the beginning!” she added. Sharmistha said that she joined politics because ‘I believe in the Congress’. “Would rather leave politics than leave Congress.”

Pranab Mukherjee’s first address on RSS platform

Pranab Mukherjee, who has been critical of the RSS, will address its activists in the evening. This will be his first speech from the RSS platform. Mukherjee’s decision to accept an invitation from the RSS has sparked controversy with some of his former Congress colleagues and Left leaders expressing their reservations over his participation in the meeting. Several leaders of the Congress has asked him to show mirror to the RSS but he has said that whatever he has to speak would be only known when he addresses the meeting.

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