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Pranab and RSS

Why Pranab Mukherjee, a veteran Congressman, went to speak at an RSS meet at Nagpur is a mystery. Some of the things he said are unexceptionable. He stressed Constitutional patriotism which is fine. But he did not condemn the challenges to the constitutional and civilizational values in India today. He did not mention such divisive campaigns as “Ghar Wapsi” and “Love Jihad”. Did he address the RSS to exercise a chastening influence on them? That did not seem to be his intention. Did he wish to be at the footlights of an obscurantist body now powerful for being the force behind the ruling party at the Centre? Did he support power without accountability?

The RSS has reasons to be gung-ho. It had the former President and seasoned Congress leader enjoying its hospitality. Pranab Mukherjee paid tribute to RSS founder KB Hedgewar. RSS President Mohan Bhagwat seemed on the same page as Mukherjee on diversity in unity. No questions were asked about Jawaharlal Nehru’s concept of unity in diversity.  The Congress may well wonder as to who gained from Mukherjee’s address and what the former President’s take is on the fundamental constitutional principle of secularism. The present President Ram Kovind is more articulate on it. Mukherjee’s acceptance of the invitation to speak at the RSS event seems to suggest he believes in a dialogue between the two extremes-RSS Hindutva and the secularism of the Opposition. The RSS is not to be equated with the BJP as it was under Atal Behari Vajpayee . Dialogue is a healthy exercise. But there are cases where the twain can never meet.


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