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Congressman Pranab Mukherjee to Speak on Nationalism at RSS Event in Nagpur

Mukherjee will focus on what is the real meaning of nationalism, he is expected to be slightly critical of the way the meaning of nationalism has been distorted to suit political ends.

Pallavi Ghosh | CNN-News18_pallavighosh

Updated:May 29, 2018, 7:56 PM IST
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Congressman Pranab Mukherjee to Speak on Nationalism at RSS Event in Nagpur
Former President Pranab Mukherjee(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)
New Delhi: Former President and a career Congressman Pranab Mukherjee will speak on nationalism at an RSS event at Reshim Bagh in Nagpur in June.

Pranab is invited as the chief guest at the valedictory session of the ‘Tritiya Varsh Varg’ or the Third Year Course organised by the RSS.

Mukherjee will focus on what is the real meaning of nationalism, he is expected to be slightly critical of the way the meaning of nationalism has been distorted to suit political ends.

Last year in October, while addressing the students of Aligarh Muslim University, on the bi-centenary celebration of the founder of Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Mukherjee said that the attempts to redefine the concept of nationalism in India were not needed as “Indian nationalism is not like the concept of European nation states”.

He has been critical of the attempts made from time-to-time to redefine definitions of nationalism.

The Sangh leadership invites eminent people every year for the annual event held at its headquarters at Reshim Bagh in Nagpur.

“We have invited the former President of India and in fact he has given his consent for participating in the program,” RSS Akhil Bhartiya Prachar Pramukh Arun Kumar told News18.

It is a convention that the chief guest at the Tritiya Varg Varsh also gives the valedictory address to mark the culmination of yearly training programs run by the RSS.

The invite to Mukherjee, an avowed Congressman during his years in active politics, is being viewed with renewed interest in political circles.

A source close to Pranab Mukherjee played down the brewing controversy.

The day Pranab Mukherjee became the first citizen of the country he dissociated himself from active politics and any political ideology in his professional life, said a source close to Pranab.

"He (Pranab) met with RSS chief while being the president, he met the Congress chief, the BJP chief and several other organisations and those organisations in turn invited him. Out of mutual courtesy, he has accepted invitations from various organisations, including the RSS. So why so much attention only to RSS. Why wasn’t there a question raised when he went to a function of Seva dal or any other organisation," said a source close to Pranab.

Former MP and Delhi Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit said as a Congress leader and minister, Mukherjee has spoken about the RSS and the BJP many times on various issues and dubbed it as "bad" and "worst" outfit, which is "communal" and "anti-national".

"Pranab Mukherjee used to say that the RSS is a bad and the worst organisation in the country. Its leaders have no morals and RSS is corrupt and spreads lies. He (Mukherjee) has also said that the RSS is anti-national, unpatriotic and communal.

"If the RSS has invited a person with such views, does this mean that the RSS admits that his (Pranab's) views about the organisation were correct," Dikshit asked.

Pranab Mukherjee’s participation in the RSS event is likely to cause some unease within the Congress, especially for a party which has maintained an arms distance from the organisation it has been fighting ideologically with since Independence.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has minced no words about his party’s stand on the RSS. In fact, he is currently facing a defamation suit for having allegedly accused the RSS of being responsible for Mahatma Gandhi's assassination.

While in office, Pranab Mukherjee had also invited RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat for lunch at Rashtrapati Bhavan.



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