Pranab Mukherjee's 'anti-climactic' RSS speech begs question: Was it Congress' ploy or former president's self-promotion?

Perhaps Pranab Mukherjee is a dyed-in-the-wool Congressman after all. The former president did his party's bidding by dutifully pulling the rug at the highly vaunted RSS convention in Nagpur on Thursday. If his speech to the Sangh cadres was anything to go by, the reportedly livid Sonia Gandhi could have delivered it at a 'bash the RSS' rally.

Even a fresh-faced Rahul could have catapulted those cliches with ease. Riddled with rusty bromides, breaking absolutely no new grounds and reiterating the standard rhetoric of 'unity in diversity' like someone playing a warped retro of Jawaharlal Nehru's tryst with destiny speech, Mukherjee must have fooled someone. But who, is the question.

Former president Pranab Mukherjee at the RSS event on Thursday. Reuters

Former president Pranab Mukherjee at the RSS event on Thursday. Reuters

Was it the reasonably bewildered Sangh rank and file who, having completed their customary callisthenics before listening patiently to Mohan Bhagwat prattle on ad infinitum in an attempt to set the stage for the (anti) climax... now trying to figure out what exactly was going on with the much heralded Mukherjee hectoring them in English. Had they come for this moral science admonishment? Certainly not. The whole event turned farcical. To the best of my hearing, there was a not a single burst of applause during the speech.

Could it be the Congress frontline that was made to look feverishly silly by displaying wrath over a damp squib and setting the Mukherjee pilgrimage to raucous music when it could have ignored what was essentially a non-event? And see now how nervous and uncertain it is over its own members and their stances. Scarcely a party projecting self-confidence.

Was it Mukherjee himself promoting his own image as a senior statesman in a nation where that species is well-nigh extinct – who conned everyone by just being the average speaker that he is and having no tricks up his sleeve.

Then, of course, there is the outlandishly delightful version in which the Gandhis and their frontliners orchestrated this whole thing and knew all along that Mukherjee the placid would tee off the RSS with his dull delivery, what with the solemn white shirts hoping for some soul-stirring stuff and not a wrist-slapping. That must have left many of them now even unable to display annoyance, having lionised their chief guest and seen his presence as a vindication of their political hues.

This was not the speech Bhagwat expected from a man allegedly swimming over against the tide of his party's opinion. Imagine he is wishing he had been given a dekko of the draft and not taken for granted it would be tangibly more supportive.

But then to believe the depth of the intrigue one has to accept that the Congress has the intellectual wherewithal to engage in such Machiavellian strategy and that is a stretch.

There must be pundits of politics out there who will analyse this event that never took off and find virtue in it. Talk about much ado over nothing.

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Updated Date: Jun 08, 2018 18:49:15 IST

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