Kolkata: Amid growing demands from several quarters for not attending a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) event scheduled to be held on June 7, former president Pranab Mukherjee has said the he will respond to those calls in Nagpur.
“Whatever I have to say, I will say in Nagpur. I have received several letters and phone calls but I haven’t responded to anyone yet,” Mukherjee was quoted as saying by leading Bengali daily Anandabazar Patrika.
It is to be noted that several senior Congress leaders, including P Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh, CK Jaffer Sharief and Ramesh Chennithala, had urged Mukherjee to reconsider his decision to attend the RSS event in Nagpur.
Former union minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram had said on Wednesday that former president Pranab Mukherjee should tell the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as to what was wrong with their ideology.
"Now that he has accepted invitation there is no point debating why he accepted it. The more important thing to say is, sir you have accepted the invitation, please go there and tell them what is wrong with their ideology," Chidambaram had said, according to ANI.
Similarly, Congress leader from Kerala, Ramesh Chennithala too said that Mukherjee’s decision to attend the function has come as a “rude shock to the secular minds”. Chennithala, who is the Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly, had asked the former President to ‘refrain’ from going to Nagpur.
Chennithala even called the RSS a 'communal outfit’ and accused the Sangh of working towards creating “a Hindu Rashtra comprising of only one section of the people which is against the Congress ideology of secularism and democracy”.
The RSS has invited Mukherjee to address newly recruited Sangh workers on June 7 in Nagpur.
Mukherjee has given his consent to participate in the programme, RSS' Akhil Bhartiya Prachar Pramukh Arun Kumar had told PTI.
Mukherjee will be the chief guest at the valedictory session of the 'Tritiya Varsh Varg' or the Third Year Course organised by the RSS.
His accepting the invite has led to a raging debate in political circles. Though the Congress had so far refrained from making a direct comment on the issue, several leaders from the party had openly expressed its displeasure over Mukherjee's decision.
Defending Mukherjee, the RSS claimed that even Mahatma Gandhi and Jaiprakash Narayan attended their functions and former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had invited its workers for the Republic Day Parade in 1963 after being impressed with its work.
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari too joined the debate over Mukherjee attending the RSS event. "The RSS is not Pakistan's ISI. The RSS is an organisation of nationalists," he had said.