Pranab Mukherjee at RSS event: BJP, Congress, AAP laud ex-president's speech — for different reasons

Former president Pranab Mukherjee's much-anticipated speech at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur on Thursday drew widespread praise on Twitter. Interestingly, people from across the ideological spectrum spoke positively about his address.

Senior BJP leader Ram Madhav said, "Great address by Dr Pranab Mukherjee at Nagpur. His address and (RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's) address are in a way complementary to each other. 'Nation first' is the core message of both. Democracy and striving for the welfare of all the people is described by both as the core of ancient Indian nationalism."

On the other side of the political divide, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala was quoted by ANI as saying that Mukherjee's speech "showed the mirror to the RSS at their headquarters." On the former president's praise for RSS founder Keshav Hedgewar, Surjewala said, "As a guest, what (Pranab Mukherjee) said should be discussed and highlighted, not unwarranted formalities."

Another Congress spokesperson, Sanjay Jha, too was effusive in his praise for the former president after the speech.

Earlier, the Congress had released a video on its handle alleging that the RSS had not fought for independence and alleged that it "fought against freedom when we fought for it."

Prior to Mukherjee's speech, Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma had said, "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."

CPM leader Sitaram Yechury took a dig both at the Congress and the RSS by saying, "In the 'history capsule' delivered by Pranab Mukherjee at the RSS headquarters, the absence of Mahatma Gandhi and his assassination speaks volumes...He (Mukherjee) would have done well to remind the RSS of its own history — banned thrice by Congress governments, first time by Sardar Patel, following Mahatma Gandhi's assassination. 'RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhiji’s death', Patel wrote to Golwalkar."

AAP leader Ashutosh too hailed Mukherjee's speech, saying, "Pranab da raised his stature. Dialogue is the only way forward...Secularism is a must, he told the RSS. The RSS wants to decimate Nehru; he told them that the way forward is Nehru’s path of confluence."

Mukherjee on Thursday warned that any attempt to define India through "religion, dogma or intolerance" will only dilute the country's existence. He said intolerance will only dilute India' national identity and Indian nationalism emanated from universalism, assimilation and co-existence.

"In India, we derive our strength from tolerance, and respect our pluralism. We celebrate our diversity," he said.

Mukherjee's decision to attent the RSS event had triggered a major political slugfest with several Congress leaders criticising his decision.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Jun 07, 2018 21:42:29 IST

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