Amidst all the criticisms and denunciations by congress leaders over Pranab Mukherjee’s decision to visit and deliver speech at Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh’s headquarter in Nagpur on Thursday evening, the organisation’s chief Mohan Bhagwat, while addressing the new recruits on the occasion of Tritiya Varsh Varg (3rd year course) said, “There has been a tradition in the RSS to invite well-known people from various walks of life. We are only following this tradition and invited former President Pranab Mukherjee.” Various leaders expressed their displeasure on former President’s decision to attend the event. These names include Jairam Ramesh and Congress leader P Chindambaram among others. They urged Mukherjee not to attend the event and warned him of the repercussions of attending the Hindutva group’s event.
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His daughter, Sharmistha Mukherjee, took to twitter to show her disapproval of her father’s act. She expressed, “By going 2 Nagpur, u r giving BJP/RSS full handle 2 plant false stories, spread rumours as 2day and making it somewhat believable. And this is just the beginning!”
.@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
She further warned her father of how dirty tricks department of BJP operates and that while the speech will be forgotten, it is the visuals that will be circulated with fake statements. The same did happen after her father left the venue by leaving behind some visuals which shocked many. A morphed picture of Pranab Mukherjee giving RSS-styled salute in the RSS gathering got viral on internet which she tweeted with the original picture, quoting, “See, this is exactly what I was fearing & warned my father about. Not even few hours have passed, but BJP/RSS dirty tricks dept is at work in full swing!”.
See, this is exactly what I was fearing & warned my father about. Not even few hours have passed, but BJP/RSS dirty tricks dept is at work in full swing! https://t.co/dII3nBSxb6
— Sharmistha Mukherjee (@Sharmistha_GK) June 7, 2018
However, it is not clear who did it and how it got viral. Above all, the political move of 80 year old former President generated uneasiness among Congress leaders and rattled Congress of which he was a part until he was elected as the President of India six years ago. Many feared this move of Pranab Mukherjee to be a display of support for Hindu Rashtra as opposed to Nehruvian secularism ideas of which he has been an advocate of. Doing exactly opposite, the scholarly former president stood firm on his beliefs and delivered the same in his speech.
At the event, he spoke for India and it’s secularism using ideologies of various prominent leaders including Nehru and Gandhi. He said, “It was this very nationalism that Pandit Nehru so vividly expressed in the book; Discovery of India. I am convinced that nationalism can only come out of the ideological fusion of Hindu, Muslims, Sikhs and other groups in India. As Gandhi ji explained Indian nationalism was not exclusive nor aggressive nor destructive.”
He further showed his strong beliefs on secularism by saying, “We accept and respect our pluralism and celebrate our diversity. Our national identity has emerged after a long drawn process of confluence and assimilation, the multiple cultures and faiths make us special and tolerant.”
Irrespective of all the criticisms targeted towards the former President, he did a magnanimous job in giving lessons on patriotism and secularism to the RSS cadres, as opposed to what was expected of his this visit.