News of Pranab Mukherjee’s Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh speech is making headlines for over a week now. People are surprised as to why Mukherjee, a stalwart Congressman and a prominent critic of the right-wing organisation, accepted the invitation to be chief guest at a mega RSS event. On the other hand, Congress leaders are in for an embarrassment as a leader, probably among the tallest alive from their party, is going to grace an event hosted by their arch-rivals.
Finally, the day has come when Mukherjee will address RSS cadres and all eyes are on what he says in his speech. On the other hand, Congress leaders are in for an embarrassment as a leader, probably among the greatest alive from their party, is going to grace an event hosted by their arch-rivals. The Congress is left fuming.
Even Pranab Mukherjee’s daughter, Sharmishtha, has slammed his decision to address RSS workers. “Hope @CitiznMukherjee now realises from todays’ incident, how BJP dirty tricks dept operates. Even RSS wouldn’t believe that u r going 2 endorse its views in ur speech. But the speech will be forgotten, visuals will remain & those will be circulated with fake statements, (sic)” she said. “@CitiznMukherjee By going 2 Nagpur, u r giving BJP/RSS full handle 2 plant false stories, spread falls rumours as 2day & making it somewhat believable. And this is just d beginning!” she added on twitter.
Sonia Gandhi’s trusted aide and Rajya Sabha leader Ahmed Patel has also spoken on the matter. “I did not expect this from Pranab da!” Patel said on Twitter. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh wrote a detailed letter to Mukherjee, asking him to reconsider his decision.
However, the Congress has offered no official comment on Mr Mukherjee attending the event, adding that “there is a lot of difference between their (RSS) ideology and our ideology”. Commenting on the issue, former union minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram has said that since Mukherjee should go and tell the RSS “what is wrong” in their ideology.
Smaller leaders like Sandeep Dikshit have also hit out at Mukherjee and reminded him of his stand on the RSS when he was in the Congress. Last week, Ramesh Chennithala, a senior Congress leader from Kerala, wrote to the former President, requesting him to not attend the event. “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”, said Mr Chennithala.
However, going by the history, it may appear that mole has been turned into a mountain in the matter.
Mukherjee and RSS leaders have never been untouchables for each other. In fact, this is not the first time that RSS has sent an invitation to Mukherjee. On the other hand, Mukherjee too had held a meeting with RSS leaders on several occasions.
As per an Indian Express report, the saffron party had approached Mukherjee with an invitation for the event while he was still serving as the President. However, Mukherjee had denied it citing the obligations of the President’s office. However, this time he accepted the invitation as now he is free of all the obligations of his previous office. Mukherjee too had invited Bhagwat for lunch at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Also, the former President had at the time of launch of the Pranab Mukherjee Foundation earlier this year .
The saffron brigade has welcomed the decision, and understandably so. Recently, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said, “It is good if Pranab Da is coming. Sangh is not linked to ISI or not an organisation of Pakistan. It is an organisation of nationalists.”
.@CitiznMukherjee By going 2 Nagpur, u r giving BJP/RSS full handle 2 plant false stories, spread falls rumours as 2day & making it somewhat believable. And this is just d beginning! 2/2
— Sharmistha Mukherjee (@Sharmistha_GK) June 6, 2018
On the other hand, top Congress leadership has remained silent on the meet. Right wing supporters on social media are creating a buzz that this may be Mukherjee’s retaliation to the alleged mistreatment that the Congress meted out to him during his days as a politician.
Now, all eyes are set on Mukherjee’s speech at the valedictory session of the ‘Tritiya Varsh Varg’ or the Third Year Course organised by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on June 7.