While many in the party are still to come to terms with former President Pranab Mukherjee’s decision to visit the RSS headquarters in Nagpur next week to address an event, some in the party are now looking forward to the speech. Former Union minister P Chidambaram and fellow Rajya Sabha MP Abhishek Singhvi on Wednesday said now that the invite has been accepted, it is the speech that is the key.
Chidambaram even had a piece of advice for Mukherjee: “Sir, now that you have accepted their invite, please go there and tell them what’s wrong with their ideology.” He also said it is futile to now ask why it was accepted.
Sidestepping a question about whether he himself would have accepted such an invite from the RSS, the former finance minister instead made a plea to Mukherjee to talk about the ills of RSS’s ideology.
Singhvi said: “It is a superficial approach to judge a man by the invitation he accepts, unless you hear what he says and also keep in mind his 60-year legacy.” He also recalled the time he himself, as a Congress spokesperson, had been approached by RSS mouthpieces Panchjanya and Organiser and he had obliged. “It was very well-received in the party, except for the usual snipers,” Singhvi said.
The two were speaking at a discussion following the launch of Singhvi’s book Straight Talk.
Both described as “bizarre” the delay on part of the Supreme Court collegium in reiterating Justice K M Joseph’s name for elevation. “At the moment the blame lies with the judiciary, because after having agreed to reiterate, they postponed that decision,” Chidambaram said.
Launching the book, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu spoke about the convergence of his ideas about some suggestions proffered by Singhvi in the book about automatic suspension of allowances for lawmakers per day or per hour lost due to disruptions. “I have set up a committee to review and revisit the Rules of Procedure and Business of Rajya Sabha for enabling smooth functioning of the House…. I hope this suggestion of Shri Singhvi will be considered by the committee,” he said.
As the author wore a wry smile, Naidu also spoke about the convergence of Singhvi’s ideas and those of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Shri Singhvi dreams of a Better India. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi is targeting a New India. The underlying concerns and intent are the same. Every Indian has a dream, and every citizen has an aspiration. This makes our country Aspirational India,” Naidu said.
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Asked about the delay in the formation of the cabinet in Karnataka, Chidambaram spoke about the time when Belgium did not have a government for nine months. “The (Belgian) vice president walked me down to the president’s office, and nobody came up to him and asked why there is no government. What is wrong if it takes 10 days? Heavens are not falling,” he said.