Pranab Mukherjee at RSS event: Debate over invitation to former President is needless, says Mohan Bhagwathttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/pranab-mukherjee-mohan-bhagwat-rss-nagpur-event-speech-5208460/

Pranab Mukherjee at RSS event: Debate over invitation to former President is needless, says Mohan Bhagwat

Pranab at RSS event: "There have been many debates about Pranab Mukjherjee attending the event but we do not consider anyone different from ourselves. We Indian are all one and united," said Bhagwat.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat at the event in Nagpur on Thursday. (Twitter/@RSSorg)
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat at the event in Nagpur on Thursday. (Twitter/@RSSorg)

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat voiced support for former President and veteran Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee and questioned the criticism related to the latter’s decision to attend the organisation’s event in Nagpur on Thursday.

While addressing the gathering at the Tritiya Varsh Training programme at the Sangh headquarters, Bhagwat said it is the RSS’s tradition to invite eminent persons to their functions and said the debate surrounding Mukherjee’s visit was uncalled for. “This is an annual event. We call dignitaries every year. Those who can come, grace the event with their presence. But all the discussion and opposition around who visits us and when is needless,” he said.

The RSS leader added, “There have been many debates about Pranab Mukjherjee attending the event but we do not consider anyone different from ourselves. We Indian are all one and united.”

Read | Pranab Mukherjee at RSS event: Intolerance will dilute our national identity, says ex-President

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Bhagwat also said that his organisation believed in unity in diversity and that it did not discriminate between Indian citizens. “The RSS invites well known people from various walks of life. The Sangh remains the Sangh and Dr Pranab Mukherjee remains Dr Pranab Mukherjee. We do not discriminate between Indian citizens. No Indian citizen is an alien for us. RSS believes in unity in diversity. Every citizen born in India is an Indian. It is his/her right to worship our motherland,” said the RSS chief.

Asserting that the RSS always preferred to look at both sides of a coin, the RSS chief said, “There should be, and could be a lot of differences in opinions and ways. There are times when we have differences. But we are all sons of the same soil. We are all the same even in this diversity.”

Bhagwat also expressed displeasure over RSS being called a Hindu outfit. “RSS is trying to bring everyone together in the country and not trying to establish itself as a Hindu outfit. No one is alien to us,” said Bhagwat.

Read | U-turn by Congress after Pranab’s speech: He has shown ‘mirror of truth’ to RSS, says Randeep Surjewala

Bhagwat’s remarks came at a time when the veteran Congress leader came under the criticism of most of party leaders. Earlier in the day, the Congress said images of the former president at the RSS headquarters had anguished millions of party workers and those who believe in pluralism and diversity of the Indian republic.

Congress senior spokesperson Anand Sharma took to Twitter to express his anguish after images of Mukherjee attending a function at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur appeared on television. “The images of Pranab Da, veteran leader and ideologue at RSS Headquarters have anguished millions of Congress workers and all those who believed in pluralism, diversity and the foundational values of the Indian Republic,” he had tweeted.

“Dialogue can only be with those who are willing to listen, absorb and change. There is nothing to suggest that RSS has moved away from his core agenda as it seeks legitimacy,” he added.

Senior party leader Ahmed Patel also expressed his displeasure over Mukherjee’s move.  Patel, who is UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s close confidant, tweeted, “I did not expect this from Pranab da!”

On Wednesday, Pranab’s daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee took to the micro-blogging site to remind her father that “by going to Nagpur, you are giving BJP/RSS full handle to plant false stories…”. Reacting to media reports of her joining BJP, Sharmistha first tweeted: “In the mountains enjoying a beautiful sunset and suddenly this news that I’m supposedly joining BJP hits like a torpedo!

Can’t there be some peace and sanity in this world? I joined politics because I believe in Congress. Would rather leave politics than leave Congress.”

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Soon after, came two more tweets addressed to her father, who has the Twitter handle @CitiznMukherjee. In the first, she wrote: “Hope @CitiznMukherjee realises from today’s incident, how BJP’s dirty tricks department 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.”

Then, she wrote: “By going to Nagpur, you are giving BJP and RSS full handle to plant false stories, spread false rumours as today and making it somewhat believable. And this is just the beginning!”

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