Pranab Mukherjee at RSS HQ updates: Ex-president showed the mirror to Sangh, says Congress after speech

As the country wonders what former president Pranab Mukherjee might say at RSS headquarters in Nagpur on Thursday, his last speech as president in 2017 reflects the thoughts and concerns that had engaged him throughout his over five-decade-long political career.

FP Staff June 07, 2018 21:28:25 IST
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Pranab Mukherjee at RSS HQ updates: Ex-president showed the mirror to Sangh, says Congress after speech


16:29 (ist)

Pranab Mukherjee is not a first, many RSS guests in past have stirred controversy

The invite to Pranab Mukherjee isn't a one-off. The RSS has been known to invite people not ascribing to its ideology. 

One of the earliest such examples is from 1993 when former Central Provinces home minister Sir Moropant Joshi was invited during  KB Hedgewar’s time. Apart from that, the RSS often refers to a voluntary visit to the Wardha RSS camp by Mahatma Gandhi on 25 December 1934. It is no surprise then that Gandhian health activist Abhay Bang has also been one of the former chief guests at the RSS event. 

RSS also claims that revolutionary Congress politician Jayaprakash Narayan also had once presided over the RSS functionaries as a guest. Some others former chief guests at RSS headquarters include the likes of former CBI chief Joginder Singh, Republican Party of India (Gavai) president R S Gavai, and former Nepal Army chief Rookmangud Katawal.

However, it was in 2007, when former Air Chief Marshal AY Tipnis was invited to the Nagpur camp by then Sarsanghchalak K S Sudarshan. Without targeting the RSS directly, "Tipnis raised eyebrows as he delivered a veiled critique dealing with secularism, tolerance and faith in the Constitution which led to a point-by-point rebuttal by Sudarshan"

15:54 (ist)

RSS issues statement after controversy over Pranab Mukherjee's visit, says exchange of ideas crucial 

The Sangh was also unsparing in its criticism of the Left as it defended its invite to the former president at its event. 

"Exchange of views and ideas is intrinsic to the Bharatiya concept of dialogue, this invitation and its acceptance is but a continuation of that democratic tradition, enshrined in our cultural ethos. So why then the dissonance and negative commentary? Why the opposition to this exchange?

The resistance has surprised many, but if we were to delve into the ideological basis of this opposition it would be unsurprising. Bharat’s intellectual spectrum’s most vocal voices are those of, an ideology that is entirely alien to India and has been rejected the world over, for its high level of intolerance and violent means to achieve conformity, that is ‘Communism’. Their idea of “thought conformity” necessitates this approach that not only rejects healthy exchange among diverse stakeholders but protests it."

15:45 (ist)

After daughter, Pranab’s son too may have to speak up on RSS event 

CNN-News18 interviewed West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Thursday who opined that after Sharmishtha Mukherejee, Pranab's son Abhijit may also have to speak up against the former president's decision to attend the RSS event. 

He said that although Pranab is respected as a knowledgeable person, he has never been a popular leader in Bengal. Like many congressmen, Chowdhury also appeared critical of Pranab's decision to participate in the event as he said, "The BJP is doing politics in Bengal. And with this, they’ll have a spicy material that they’ll use against the Congress. Once a robust Congress leader, he is visiting the RSS headquarters. The BJP is a communal party and they’ll definitely make Pranab Mukherjee into a political scandal."


June 07, 2018 - 22:10 (IST)

Hope RSS listes to Pranab Mukherjee, says Congress' Anand Sharma 

June 07, 2018 - 22:02 (IST)

Perhaps the Congress jumped the gun in criticising Pranab Mukherjee for his visit to RSS HQ | FirstCut by Manjul Toons

June 07, 2018 - 21:46 (IST)

Pranab's comment a reminder to Narendra Modi governemnt: Congress of ex-president's speech

"Shri Mukherjee also reminded the present Modi Government of following Rajdharma, founded upon our diversity, non-violence, multiculturalism and assimilation of ideas. He particularly reminded the Prime Minister that 'Happiness of people is the happiness of ruler, their welfare is his welfare'. Indicating the unchecked exercise of authority and attack on institutions in the garb of a self-professed definition of 'Pseudo Nationalism', he reminded the RSS as also the Prime Minister that, 'Indian Nationalism is Constitutional patriotism," Surjewala said. 

June 07, 2018 - 21:43 (IST)

Congress dismisses Pranab's comments on Hedgewar, says focus on speech not formalities

"As a guest what Pranab Mukherjee ji said should be discussed and highlighted, not unwarranted formalities," Surjewala said on Mukherjee hailing KB Hedgewar as 'great son of Mother India'. 

June 07, 2018 - 21:36 (IST)

Pranab Mukherjee showed mirror to RSS, Congress after ex-president's speech 

"Shri Pranab Mukherjee has reminded the RSS of the history of India. He taught the RSS that India's beauty lies in its tolerance for difference ideas, religions and languages. Is RSS ready to listen?," Randeep Singh Surjewala asked at a press conference convened after the former president's speech. 

"Today Pranab Mukherjee has shown the mirror to RSS at their HQ. He talked of plurality, tolerance and multiculturalism," he added. 

June 07, 2018 - 21:34 (IST)

Pranab Mukherjee speech should remind Congress too, the meaning of nationalism 

Pranab Mukherjee’s thrust was on virtues of plurality, social and cultural diversity, divergent opinions, inclusiveness, secularism and democracy. Crores of people of varied faith, language, social practices were bought together as one nation by one flag and one constitution. This would have been taken as a criticism of RSS but thankfully for Sangh their chief Mohan Bhagwat had broadly outlined his speech on same pattern. While the former president gave a lesson or two when he talked about his concerns for increased violence, but that is applicable for all and not just for the RSS. 

What also needs to be noted that Pranab ended his speech on a friendly note by requesting sarsnghchalakMohan Bhagwat to excuse him if he exceeded his time. The pictures, still and moving, would ever be witness of bonhomie between Bhagwat and Mukherjee and the latter standing while RSS flag was unfurled at the beginning of program and when it was brought down on its conclusion. There was also a lesson or two for Congress. The party would do well to remember that what Pranab quoted from Jawaharlal Nehru's Discovery of India is what nationalism truly meant. 

June 07, 2018 - 20:56 (IST)

People should be at the centre of all activities, says Pranab Mukherjee 

"People are at the centre of all activities of the State and nothing should be done to divide them.The aim of the State should be to galvanise them to fight a concerted war against poverty,disease and deprivation.Only then can we create a nation where Nationalism flows automatically," Mukherjee said. 

June 07, 2018 - 20:49 (IST)

Hatred, intolerance dilute national identity, says Pranab Mukherjee

"Many languages and religion under come under one flag. Every day, we see increased violence around us. We must free our public discourse from all forms of violence — physical or verbal. We must move away from anger and violence to peace, harmony and happiness. I am addressing the trainees, you are young and highly trained. Please pray for peace. Our motherland is asking for that and needs that. Every time a woman and child is hurt, the soul of India is wounded. While we have done well in many macro-economic areas. But we have not fared well in the World Happiness Index. We rank 133rd. When we go to Parliament, just above the lift in gate number 6, there is a quote by Kautilya, 'In the happiness of the people lies in the happiness of the king. Their welfare is the king's welfare.' Kautilya placed people at the Centre even before India's constitution was laid down. As Gandhi ji said, 'Indian nationalism was not exclusive, aggressive or destructive'," says Pranab Mukherjee as he ended his speech at the RSS Tritiya Varsh valedictory event in Nagpur.

June 07, 2018 - 20:39 (IST)

Pranab Mukherjee's comments on confluence of cultures, ancient Indian glory at RSS HQ

Pranab Mukherjee beginning his speech with glory of India in ancient times was interesting. Those in Hindutava fold stress on the glorious period of India, which was eulogized by travelers from across the world. Chankaya, Chandragupta and whole lot of others came in for reference. He said that the trust in India as a country is eternal. It has rich cultural and civilisational tradition. Indian nationalism had evolved through ages but at the centre of it was the thought of universal brotherhood, `Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam’. Mukherjee with his famed knowledge of politics, history and tradition would come to new RSS recruits, those gathered there and watching him on TV as a learned professor who gave them a memorable lecture.

June 07, 2018 - 20:34 (IST)

'From our Constitution flows our nationalism,' Pranab schools RSS cadres on patriotism

Democracy is not a gift to us but a sacred task. And our Constitution is a magna carta of socio economic transformation of India. It represents the aspiration of millions of Indian. And from our Constitution, flows our Nationalism," Pranab summed up. 

Pranab Mukherjee at RSS event latest updates: Pranab Mukherjee said, "The confluence of cultures do not mean extinction of another," as he delivered his speech on nationalism and pluralism at the RSS headquarters.

Mohan Bhagwat said that the differences in opinions should not divide our hearts. He said that we must remember that we are all the sons of same soil and we are working for the betterment of same country.

"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," Mohan Bhagwat said. 

Pranab Mukherjee reached at the RSS headquarter after making an impromptu stop at the birthplace of Sangh founder KB Hedgewar. He will address the RSS cadres at around 7 pm.

Anand Sharma tweeted that the Congress workers will be hurt by the images of Pranab Mukherjee at RSS headquarters. "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 wrote on Twitter.

Former president and Congress veteran Pranab Mukherjee, at KB Hedgewar's residence, wrote in the visitor's book: "Today I am here in Nagpur to pay respect to a great son of mother India."

Mukherjee visited the birth place of the RSS founding Sarsanghachalak Keshav Baliram Hedgewar ahead of his much-anticipated speech at the Sangh headquarters in Nagpur. Reports said that the visit was a impromptu decision and not a part of the planned schedule.

As the country wonders what former president Pranab Mukherjee might say at Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) headquarters in Nagpur on Thursday, his last speech as president in 2017 reflects the thoughts and concerns that had engaged him throughout his over five-decade-long political career.

Unlike his 2012 speech when he took over as president in which he made a passing reference, pluralism and tolerance dominated the 2017 address.

"I want to share with you some truths that I have internalized in this period. The soul of India resides in pluralism and tolerance. India is not just a geographical entity. It carries a history of ideas, philosophy, intellect, industrial genius, craft, innovation and experience. Plurality of our society has come about through assimilation of ideas over centuries.

Pranab Mukherjee at RSS HQ updates Expresident showed the mirror to Sangh says Congress after speech

"The multiplicity in culture, faith and language is what makes India special. We derive our strength from tolerance. It has been part of our collective consciousness for centuries. There are divergent strands in public discourse. We may argue, we may agree or we may not agree.

"But we cannot deny the essential prevalence of multiplicity of opinion. Otherwise, a fundamental character of our thought process will wither away," said the lifelong Congressman on the last day of his career.

Mukherjee, who has been critical of the RSS, is set to address its activists in Nagpur on Thursday. This will be his first speech from the RSS platform.

Accepting an invitation from the Hindutva group has sparked controversy with some of his former Congress colleagues and Left leaders expressing their reservations over his participation in the RSS meeting.

However, what he is going to speak about at the Nagpur gathering remains a guess. He has said whatever he has to speak would be only known when he addresses the meeting.

In his last speech as the president, Mukherjee had expressd his concern about increasing violence and how darkness, fear and mistrust was at the heart of this violence. Power of non-violence has to be resurrected to build a caring society to ensure participation of all sections of the people, he said.

While pluralism along with environment and inclusion engaged Mukherjee last year as he readied to hang up his boots after a very successful career, his first speech as president in 2012 was markedly different and focussed mainly on poverty, terrorism and corruption. He talked on education both the times.

The first topic Mukherjee touched in his 2012 speech was poverty after making the same overarching statement on basic fundamentals for a modern nation - democracy, secularism and equality. Real development is when the poorest feel they are part of the narrative of rising India, he said.

"There is no humiliation more abusive than hunger. Trickle-down theories do not address the legitimate aspirations of the poor. We must lift those at the bottom so that poverty is erased from the dictionary of modern India."

However, then, too, Mukherjee's faith in secularism is reflected in the solitary line on the topic when he said: "Our social harmony is the sublime co-existence of temple, mosque, church, gurudwara and synagogue; they are symbols of our unity in diversity."

With inputs from PTI

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