NEW DELHI: While Congress lauded former president Pranab Mukherjee’s speech at the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) event in Nagpur, voices of dissent can still be heard from party leaders. Senior Congress leader Manish Tewari on Friday trained guns at the former president over why he chose to attend the event.
“May I ask you a question that you still have not answered that is bothering millions of Secularists and Pluralists. Why did you choose to go to the RSS headquarters and deliver homilies on Nationalism? Your generation cautioned mine in training camp after training camp through 80’s & 90’s about the intent & designs of RSS. You were a part of the Govt that banned RSS in 1975 & then again in 1992. Don’t you think you should tell us what was evil about RSS then that has become virtuous now? Either what we were told then was wrong or your lending respectability if not legitimacy to RSS by the act of association is not kosher given your stature in Public life. Was it an attempt at ideological rapprochement/lowering bitterness in political firmament/positioning as cynics suggest,” he tweeted.
“Whatever the motivation was it will be seen as just an attempt to mainstream RSS in secular and pluralistic consciousness. History tells us when Nazi’s were strutting around Europe in black berets Chamberlain thru Munich Pact- 1938 thought he had bought the ‘Peace of our Times’.What a false dawn it was,” he added.
His attack at Pranab comes even as the Congress cheered his Thursday’s speech in Nagpur. Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram said he was happy that the former president highlighted Congress’s ideology during the speech.
“Happy that Mr Pranab Mukherjee told the RSS what is right about Congress’s ideology. It was his way of saying what is wrong about RSS’s ideology,” Chidambaram tweeted.
Besides Chidambaram, other Congress leaders including Anand Sharma and Randeep Surjewala also lauded Mukherjee’s speech at the event.
Mukherjee’s acceptance of the RSS invitation to attend the Third Year Sangha Shiksha Varga (SSV) event had drawn ire from the Congress and others with the party questioning the motive behind the move.
At the event, Pranab said: “We accept and respect our pluralism and celebrate our diversity. Our national identity has emerged after a long drawn process of confluence and assimilation, the multiple cultures and faiths make us special and tolerant. Nationalism is defined as identification oneself with one’s own nation. Patriotism is defined as devotion to one’s own country. We derive our strength from tolerance. We respect our pluralism. We celebrate our diversity. Intolerance will only dilute our national identity. Any attempt to define our nation through religion, dogma or intolerance will only fade our existence.”