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RSS says former president Pranab Mukherjee will attend its Nagpur event on June 7

The former president will address RSS’s camp for members studying to become pracharaks.

india Updated: May 28, 2018 07:14 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
RSS,Pranab Mukherjee,Nagpur
An invitation was extended to former president Pranab Mukherjee address the RSS’s third-year camp for members studying to qualify as pracharaks, which he has accepted, the RSS functionary (HT File Photo)

Former president Pranab Mukherjee will address members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at its headquarters in Nagpur on June 7, according to a senior functionary of the organisation and an official from Mukherjee’s office.

An invitation was extended to Mukherjee address the RSS’s third-year camp for members studying to qualify as pracharaks, which he has accepted, the RSS functionary cited above said on Sunday. “He will go to Nagpur to attend the event. He will spend two days in Nagpur and return on June 8,” an official from Mukherjee’s office confirmed.

The former president was associated with the Congress throughout his political career and held several key ministerial berths, including finance and defence under multiple Congress regimes. But officials close to Mukherjee said that he has had a good rapport with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat for several years despite the RSS’s links with the Bharataiya Janata Party (BJP).

“After Mukherjee became the president, Bhagwat was invited two or three times to Rashtrapati Bhavan and the two talked about India, its culture, and philosophical issues,” said a second official from Mukherjee’s office.

The RSS organises training camps across the country during the summer months. The final-year camp, also known as the Truteeya Varsh Sangh Shiksha Varg is held annually in Nagpur, the headquarters of the Sangh. Only volunteers who attend the first- and second-year training camps are eligible for the final-year camp and can assume the role of full-time pracharaks (those who carry out the role of propagating the RSS’s ideology).

The RSS functionary, who asked not to be named, said: “We always invite prominent people to address the cadre. This year, we extended the invitation to the former president, which he has accepted. He had shown interest in knowing more about the Sangh, during his meetings with the Sarsangachalak Mohan Bhagwat and we followed it up with inviting him to Nagpur.”

Bhagwat had called on Mukherjee in December 2015, a day after the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance lost the assembly elections in Bihar, setting off speculation in the political corridors about the purpose of the meeting. RSS functionaries had, however, asserted that Bhagwat had gone to greet the president after Diwali and had presented him books about the Sangh.

Another meeting between the two took place in June 2017, shortly before Mukherjee demitted office. “These meetings were courtesy calls and an invitation for lunch that was extended to the Sarsanghchalak; there was no (political) agenda,” a second RSS functionary said.

First Published: May 27, 2018 23:03 IST