Pranab Mukherjee has shown ‘mirror of truth’ to RSS, says Congress

Former president Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday warned that any attempt to define India through "religion, dogma or intolerance" will only dilute the country's existence.

Pranab Mukherjee has shown ‘mirror of truth’ to RSS, says Congress
Pic courtesy: Twitter/@RSSorg

New Delhi: The Congress on Thursday said that the former president Pranab Mukherjee had shown the ‘mirror of truth’ to the RSS by reminding them of India’s 'pluralism, tolerance, secularism and inclusiveness' as an article of faith and soul of the country. 

Addressing the press, Congress' Randeep Singh Surjewala, in-charge, communications, said, "Former president Pranab Mukherjee's visit to RSS headquarters today had caused wide-ranging discussion, comment, concern and even consternation amongst a large section of Indians, who have an innate belief in our foundational values of democracy, pluralism, diversity - of cultures, of ethnicity, of languages and of religious practices. Pranab Mukherjee has shown the mirror of truth to the RSS by reminding them of India’s pluralism, tolerance, secularism and inclusiveness as an article of faith and soul of the country. He particularly highlighted the imperative need of freeing the public discourse from all forms of violence - physical and verbal, besides putting compassion, harmony and non-violence as the centre stage of our public life."

He added, "Pranab Mukherjee also reminded the present Modi government of following 'rajdharma', founded upon our diversity, non-violence, multi-culturalism 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 PM that Indian nationalism is Constitutional patriotism."

"As Indians and as Congressmen, we encourage and believe in the democratic dialogue and recognise the tight and sanctity of dialogue across different thought processes. The simple issue to understand, however, is - Dialogue is possible in democratic order, with an open mind and willingness to change, accept and adapt to the other person’s point of view. Is RSS ready to listen? Is RSS ready to change? Is RSS ready to admit its mistakes - both of thought and action? Is RSS ready to adapt to India’s foundational values of pluralism, tolerance, non-violence, secularism and diversity?" Surjewala asked.

He further asked, "Does RSS believe that by merely inviting the former president to an event will give it the much elusive social and political sanctity? Let the RSS and BJP publically commit today to change its character, orientation, thought process and path and accept the sagacious advice of their guest Pranab Mukherjee."

Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday warned that any attempt to define India through "religion, dogma or intolerance" will only dilute the country's existence, as he attended an RSS event in Nagpur amid criticism by several of his party leaders including his own daughter. He said intolerance will only dilute India' national identity and Indian nationalism emanated from universalism, assimilation and co-existence. "In India, we derive our strength from tolerance and respect our pluralism. We celebrate our diversity," Mukherjee said.

Mukherjee, who served as president of India between 2012 and 2017, added, "I am here to share my understanding on nation, nationalism and patriotism about our country which is 'Bharat'... We must free our public discourse from all kinds of fear and violence."

Before the former president spoke, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said the debate over Mukherjee's decision to attend the RSS event was "meaningless" and no one is an outsider for his organisation. Speaking ahead of Mukherjee's speech, he added that the former president will remain what he is and the sangh will remain the sangh even after the event. Bhagwat pointed out that his organisation wants to unify the entire society and no one was an outsider for it. "People may have different views but they are all children of mother India," he said. 

 Mukherjee's decision to attend the RSS event had triggered a major political slugfest with several Congress leaders criticising his decision.

(With PTI inputs)

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