Former President Pranab Mukherjee’s decision to visit RSS headquarters in Nagpur has struck a nerve in the Congress leadership. The prevalent notion in the Congress party is that this visit by the former President of India will give legitimacy to the RSS and its beliefs, which according to them is in stark contrast to the idea of India that the Congress believes in.
Several Congress leaders including Jairam Ramesh, Ramesh Chennaithala have written to Mukherjee urging him to reconsider his decision to visit Nagpur, where he is scheduled to deliver a speech on 7th June.
Chennaithala, a prominent leader from Congress has termed RSS as a ‘communal outfit’. He furthered that the idea of Congress’s India is one of secularism and democracy, which is contrasting to RSS’s idea of India where only one section is given priority to.
Jairam Ramesh reportedly said, “Meeting RSS functionaries in Rashtrapati Bhavan or at his residence is one thing. But going into their ‘garbh griha’ (sanctum sanctorum) in Nagpur is another. And it’s a convocation of people who would be ‘pracharaks’ and would go about the RSS job of demolishing the fundamentals of Indian democracy.”
The RSS, on the other hand, cited multiple occasions where leaders like Mukherjee have attended their programmes including Mahatma Gandhi as well as Jaiprakash Narayanan, had attended their functions. The RSS further points to the occasion when even former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, invited RSS’ workers for the Republic Day parade in 1963 after he was impressed by the work and discipline of the Sangh.
Amidst all the criticism, the former president of the Indian republic has maintained that he sees this matter in an ‘apolitical’ sense. Mukherjee believes that he transcended petty political partisanship when he assumed the role of the President of India.
He has refused to comment on these criticisms from his party people and stated that he would respond to whatever needs a response, in his speech in Nagpur. He also said that he has received several phone calls and letters but yet to respond to any.