New Delhi: Mukherjee has showed the mirror of truth to the RSS at its headquarters and asked whether the Sangh and the BJP would admit mistakes and change their "character, orientation, thought process" after accepting his "sagacious advice".
Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said that Mukherjee, in his speech at RSS headquarter in Nagpur, reminded them of India's pluralism, tolerance, secularism and inclusiveness and hoped that the RSS would come out with a reply admitting its mistakes and doing course-correction.
Mukherjee particularly highlighted the imperative to free public discourse from all forms of violence, besides putting compassion, harmony and non-violence as the centre stage of public life, Surjewala said.
Surjewala said Mukherjee, a Congress veteran, reminded the Modi government of following "rajdharma" founded upon diversity, non-violence, multi-culturalism and assimilation of ideas.
He also reminded the prime minister that happiness of people is the happiness of the ruler and their welfare is his welfare, indicating thereby the "unchecked exercise of authority and attack on institutions" in the garb of self-professed definition of pseudo- nationalism.
"Let the RSS and the BJP publicly commit today to change its character, orientation, thought process and path and accept the sagacious advice of their guest Pranab Mukherjee. It is time for (RSS chief) Mohan Bhagwat and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to answer. We await a reply," Surjewala said.
He, however, played down Mukherjee hailing KB Hedgewar as a "great son of Mother India" and dubbed it as a mere formality.
"As a guest what Pranab Mukherjee ji said should be discussed and highlighted, not the unwarranted formalities," he said when asked about the remark.
"Is RSS ready to admit its mistakes and ready to adapt India's pluralism, secularism and diversity? Will RSS give up its prejudice towards women and marginalised? Will it give up its inherent character of subjugation and violence?" he asked.
"Ex-president's visit to RSS headquarters has caused widespread concern and debate amongst those who believe in India's foundational values. Pranab Mukherjee has shown 'Mirror of Truth' to RSS, to follow India's civilisational values. Will RSS and the prime minister change path and accept his sagacious advice?" Surjewala asked.
Mukherjee, while addressing the RSS despite criticism from within the Congress and his family, warned that any attempt to define India through "religion, hatred, dogmas and intolerance" will dilute our existence and said public discourses must be freed of all forms of violence.
Mukherjee, in a strong-worded speech on 'nation, nationalism and patriotism' in context of Bharat, said India's soul resides in pluralism and tolerance and asserted that India's identity has emerged through a long-drawn process of confluence, assimilation and co-existence.
Earlier, there was considerable unease in the Congress, which put out a video on its official Twitter handle and an article on its website attacking the RSS and its ideology, that coincided with Mukherjee sharing the stage with the RSS chief at its headquarters in Nagpur.
Senior party leader Anand Sharma also took to Twitter to say that images of the former president at RSS headquarters had anguished millions of party workers and those who believed in pluralism and diversity of the Indian republic.
"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," Sharma said.
"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, in response to RSS stating, following the controversy over Mukherjee's visit, that dialogue was important, central to RSS ideology and an old tradition of the country.
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.
— Anand Sharma (@AnandSharmaINC) June 7, 2018
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.
— Anand Sharma (@AnandSharmaINC) June 7, 2018
Earlier in the day, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel expressed his disapproval of the former president's visit to the RSS headquarters.
Patel, who is UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's confidant and has been her political secretary, voiced his view on Twitter, saying, "I did not expect this from Pranab da!"
The video posted by the Congress Twitter handle, "RSS for Dummies: A guide for the average girl and guy", was accompanied by a post saying, "Today is a very fitting day to bring you all a primer on what the RSS really stands for."
"The video was put out in the form of a guide for the young boys and girls on what the RSS stood for and alleged that it did not participate in the freedom struggle while the Congress did," the tweet said.
The article titled, "Never forget what the RSS stands for" carried an image with an RSS volunteer spewing fire from his mouth.
"...To start with, the RSS was never part of the freedom struggle against the British. At a time, when revolutionaries young and old were agitating against the British, the RSS leaders of yore took utmost care to ensure that nothing that they did would tick off the Brits," the article said.
"RSS stalwarts are known for their endorsement of fascist tendencies. In We or Our Nationhood Defined (1939), Golwalkar expressed admiration for the Nazis for their policy on Jews and said that this was a model that India could profit from," it said.
Updated Date: Jun 08, 2018 12:14 PM