RSS praises Pranab Mukherjee for accepting invite as Congress reserves comment
RSS said in a statement that it is a sign of Pranab Mukherjee’s greatness that he has accepted its invitation to address workers in NagpurUpdated: May 29, 2018 18:19 IST
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Tuesday praised former president and Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee for accepting an invitation to address its workers in Nagpur on June 7.
“This isn’t surprising for those who know and understand the Sangh, because RSS has always invited prominent people of the society in its programmes. This time, we invited Dr Pranab Mukherjee and it’s his greatness that he has accepted our invitation,” read a statement from the RSS.
The former president will address the Third Year Sangha Shiksha Varga (SSV), which is held at the RSS headquarters annually in Nagpur.
Mukherjee’s party, the Congress, was silent on the issue. “No comments”, was Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan’s response when asked about Mukherjee visiting the RSS headquarters.
He said since the event is yet to happen he would not comment on it and the Congress will formulate its thoughts once the event takes place.
But former MP and Delhi Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit pointed out that Mukherjee had in the past criticised the RSS and the BJP, calling them “communal” and “anti-national”.
“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,” Dikshit asked.
Union minister and BJP leader Nitin Gadkari termed Mukherjee’s move a “good start.”
“The RSS is not Pakistan’s ISI. The RSS is an organisation of nationalists,” Gadkari said at a press conference in Mumbai. “Mukherjee’s acceptance of the invitation is a good start. Political untouchability is not good,” he said.
Senior swayamsevaks pointed out that while he was president, Mukherjee invited RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to Rashtrapati Bhavan. The former president had evinced some interest in the working and functioning of the RSS, said a leader. “That is why he is being invited to visit the RSS headquarters for a first-hand experience of the kind of work the Sangh does,” said Atul Pingle, Vidarbha Prant Prachar Pramukh of the RSS.
Former RSS spokesman and ideologue MG Vaidya said that it was not the first time a prominent person from outside the Sangh is attending one of its programmes. “In 1934, Mahatma Gandhi had attended a Sangh Shibir at Wardha and held discussions with the RSS founder and the then chief, Dr KB Hedgewar, on the future of Bharat,” Vaidya said.
He said that Mukherjee accepting the RSS invite sent a message to the country that on vital issues there should be dialogue and adversaries were not enemies. “This also proves that RSS is not a political organisation,” he further said.
Mukherjee served as the president of India from 2012 to 2017. He also held several cabinet posts ranging from finance minister to external affairs minister in a political career that spanned nearly six decades.
Besides Mahatma Gandhi, former president Zakir Husain, activist Jayaprakash Narayan and commander-in-chief of the Indian Army, Kodandera M. Cariappa been guests at various RSS events.