Pranab reached at RSS HQ | Live updates | Daughter is against visit

Pranab Mukherjee witnesses swayamsevaks’ parade at RSS headquarters.

Former President Pranab Mukherjee is the chief guest at the closing ceremony of ‘Tritiya Varsha Sangh Shiksha Varg’, an Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) event to mark the conclusion of a three-year training camp for swayamsevaks in Nagpur.

Mr. Mukherjee has maintained that he should be judged after his speech at the event. “Whatever I have to say, I will say in Nagpur,” he had told Anandabazar Patrika. But political leaders are divided over his decision.

Mr. Mukherjee’s daughter and Congress leader Sharmistha said her father was giving the BJP and the Sangh a handle to plant false stories with his decision to speak at the RSS event. His “speech will be forgotten” but the “visuals will remain”, she said on Twitter. She also expressed the hope that the former president would realise how the BJP’s “dirty tricks department” works and warned him of the consequences of attending such a meet.

Some Congress leaders, including Jairam Ramesh and C.K. Jaffar Sharief, also wrote to him, while a few leaders of the party, including Anand Sharma, personally visited him in a bid to dissuade him from going to Nagpur.

Mr. Mukherjee, when he was associated with the Congress, had moved a resolution during a party conclave in 2010 to investigate alleged links of the terrorists with the RSS and its sister organisations.

RSS chief addresses conclave

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat begins his speech. Thanks Mr. Mukherjee for accepting the RSS’ invitation. And touches upon the debate over his visit. “Sangh will remain Sangh. Dr. Mukherjee will remain Dr. Mukherjee,” he says adding that the Sangh acknowledges all thoughts.  “Respecting diverse thoughts is our strength,” he says.  “We are all sons of Bharat Mata.”

He says the Mr. Mukherjee’s visit was much hyped, but that’s a routine for Nagpurians as every year they witness a dignitary coming for Sangh Shiksha Varg.

It’s to be noted that for the first time an RSS chief is speaking in the presence of a guest at any RSS event.

Former national footballer among special invitees

The organisation introduces special invitees — Sunil Shastri, Sanjay Lalbhai, Challa Rajendra Prasad, Rajiv Malhotra, Vishad Mafatlal , Kalyan Chaubey and Ardhendu Bose — to the valedictory programme. Mr. Chaubey is a former national football player.

‘Pranab at RSS HQ anguishes Congress workers’

“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,” tweets Mr. Anand Sharma. “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.”

The tweet comes in response to the RSS stating, following the controversy over Mr. Mukherjee’s visit, that dialogue was important, central to RSS ideology and an old tradition of the country.

The Sangh, which describes itself as a nationalist and cultural organisation rather than a political or religious one, was founded by Hedgewar, known as Doctorji, on September 27, 1925 on Vijayadashami day at his house. The name ‘Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’ was selected for the organisation on April 17, 1926 from a list of four names — Jaripatka Mandal, Bharat Uddharak Mandal, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Pranab witnesses RSS volunteers’ parade

The former President is on the dais with Mr. Bhagwat and other RSS leaders. The parade and drill by swayamsevaks who have completed three years in the organisation has begun. The RSS holds training camps for first, second and third-year swayamsewaks.

Visits Hedgewar’s birthplace

Mr. Mukherjee visited the birthplace of RSS founding Sarsanghachalak Keshav Baliram Hedgewar ahead of his speech. He was welcomed by Mr. Bhagwat and RSS general secretary Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi.

“Today I came here to pay my respect and homage to a great son of Mother India,” Mr. Mukherjee wrote in the visitor’s book at Hedgewar’s birthplace.  Those present included Subhash Chandra Bose’s family members who have been invited as special guests, sources said. Lal Bahadur Shastri’s relatives too were present.

Former President Pranab Mukherjee with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat at the birthplace of the organisation's founder, Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, in Nagpur on June 7, 2018.

Former President Pranab Mukherjee with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat at the birthplace of the organisation’s founder, Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, in Nagpur on June 7, 2018. | Photo Credit: PTI

According to sources, the decision to pay tributes to Hedgewar was not part of Mr. Mukherjee’s scheduled itinerary and an impromptu decision was taken by the former President to do so. The sources said he he would garland the statue of Hedgewar.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat receives former President Pranab Mukherjee in Nagpur on June 7, 2018.

Mr. Mukherjee would be introduced to the other senior Sangh functionaries and he would attend the Sangh parade by its workers on completion of the training camp.

Ahmed Patel expresses disapproval

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel expressed his disapproval at Mr. Mukherjee visiting the RSS headquarters, and said he did not expect this from him.

Mr. Patel, who is UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s close confidant and has been her political secretary, voiced his view on Twitter, in reply to Mukherjee’s daughter who spoke out against the decision of the former President to address an RSS event.

“I did not expect this from Pranab da!” Patel said in a one line tweet.

Congress doesn’t understand RSS, says Vaidya

Former RSS spokesperson and senior ideologue of the organisation M.G. Vaidya in an exclusive interview with The Hindu said:

“In 1963, Jawaharlal Nehru invited the RSS to take part in the Republic Day parade and 3000 swayamsevaks participated in it in the RSS uniform. No one is untouchable for the RSS. The Congress is narrow-minded.

“They should say that Mukherjee will present the Congress’s views and his own views (on the RSS platform). But, it appears, that the Congress doesn’t have confidence in him.”

Daughter against visit

Mr. Mukherjee’s visit was giving the BJP and RSS an opportunity to spread rumours, his daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee said on Wednesday.

The Delhi Congress leader tweeted that the BJP had floated rumours of her joining the party. Tweeting at her father, she said: “Hope @CitiznMukherjee now realises from todays’ incident, how BJP dirty tricks dept operates. Even RSS wouldn’t believe that u r going 2 endorse its views in ur speech. But the speech will be forgotten, visuals will remain & those will be circulated with fake statements.

Source: The Hindu

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