Veteran Congress leader CK Jaffer Sharief has objected to former President Pranab Mukherjee’s scheduled visit to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) headquarters in Nagpur in Maharashtra. Terming the decision of the former Congress stalwart as “surprising and shocking”, Sharief said that Mukherjee should not “ignore his background”.
“His decision to go to RSS is surprising and shocking. Being a Congress man life long, he can't ignore his background. He didn't take anyone into confidence, he's suddenly going,” said the veteran Congress leader on Mukherjee’s visit, scheduled for June 7.
Mukherjee has given his consent to be a guest at the valedictory function of Third Year Sangha Shiksha Varga (SSV) of the RSS. This was confirmed by RSS Akhil Bhartiya Prachar Pramukh Arun Kumar. "We have invited the former President of India and it is his greatness that he has given his consent for participating in the programme," he had said. The Sangh leadership invites eminent people for the annual event held at its headquarters at Reshim Bagh.
RSS leader Rakesh Sinha also said, "Former president Pranab Mukherjee's acceptance to attend RSS event in Nagpur sends a message to the country that on vital issues there should be dialogue and adversaries are not enemies. Questions raised on RSS-Hindutva is being answered by his acceptance of the invitation."
In June 2017, when Mukherjee was the president, he had invited RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat for lunch at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The RSS had said at that time that it was a pre-decided courtesy meet. Earlier, Bhagwat had called on Mukherjee in December 2015, a day after BJP had lost the Bihar Assembly elections. The RSS functionaries had said that Bhagwat had gone to extend Diwali greetings to Mukherjee.
A veteran Congress leader, Mukherjee, 82, was the 13th president of India and held the office from 2012 to 2017. He has been associated with the Congress since 1969, when he was elected to the Rajya Sabha. Mukherjee has worked closely with former PMs Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv. He became Union finance minister for the first time in 1982 and served till 1984. In his last stint, he served as the finance minister in Congress-led UPA II government headed by Manmohan Singh.