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Several Congress Leaders Ask Pranab Mukherjee to Withdraw From RSS Event, But Chidambaram Has a Different Take

Chidambaram said Mukherjee should tell the RSS what is wrong with the outfit's ideology when he addresses its event in Nagpur on June 7.

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Updated:May 30, 2018, 10:23 PM IST
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Several Congress Leaders Ask Pranab Mukherjee to Withdraw From RSS Event, But Chidambaram Has a Different Take
File photos of senior Congress leaders P Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee.
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New Delhi: Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram has gone against the grain and asked his former colleague and former President Pranab Mukherjee to go ahead with his visit to the RSS headquarters in June. But he has a special request for him.

Chidambaram said Mukherjee should tell the RSS what is wrong with the outfit's ideology when he addresses its event in Nagpur on June 7.

“Now that he has accepted an invitation, there is no point debating why he did so,” said Chidambaram. “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,” he added.

Chidambaram’s comment comes amid a raging controversy over Mukherjee’s decision to accept the RSS invite. Although the Congress itself has refrained from making a comment on the issue so far, several senior leaders have made their displeasure apparent and have asked him to reconsider "for the sake of secularism".

Ramesh Chennithala, a senior Congress leader from Kerala, sent a letter to Mukherjee requesting him to refrain from attending the event while West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury and senior Congress leader V Hanumantha Rao echoed similar sentiments.

In his letter, Chennithala, also leader of the opposition in Kerala assembly, said Mukherjee's decision had come as a "rude shock" to the secular minds of the country. He alleged that the RSS has been trying to divide the country on religious lines and to run the incumbent government by remote control.

"Being one of the tallest leaders of the great Indian National Congress, which has been responsible for preserving the secular fabric of this country, your decision has invited unparalleled disgruntlement among the rank and file of the Congress Party," the letter said.

Adhir Chowdhury expressed surprise over Mukherjee's decision and said he is unable to relate it with the former President's previous comments against the Sangh. "I am really surprised to hear about the decision of Pranab Mukherjee to attend RSS's programme in Nagpur. Just like any other Congressman, I am really astonished to hear about it," Chowdhury said in Kolkata.

"My question is does he (Mukherjee) think his previous comments against RSS were wrong ... We still remember how Pranab Mukherjee as a senior leader of the Congress had criticized RSS as a communal and a divisive organization". However, Mukherjee is no longer President, nor a Congress leader, and he is free to take any decision, he said.

Hanumantha Rao said the former president should withdraw his decision "in the interest of secularism". "I am requesting him that he should withdraw," Rao said in Hyderabad.

"Their (RSS) thinking is Hindutva. They are not secular. They want 'Hindu desh'. How he (Mukherjee) can go? In this country, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, everybody is there... So my request is he should rethink (his decision to attend the RSS meet) and he should not go," he said.

But senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi agreed with Chidambaram. He said it is a "somewhat stupidish approach" to judge Mukherjee over acceptance of the invitation. "Unless and until you hear what the former president says there, you should not judge him," he said.

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| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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