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From Anguish to Approval, Anand Sharma’s Volte-Face on Pranab

Changing his tune after Pranab Mukherjee’s speech on patriotism and nationalism, Congress leader Anand Sharma said the former president had emerged “proud and taller”.

Updated:June 8, 2018, 12:09 PM IST
New Delhi: Hours after accusing Pranab Mukherjee of causing “anguish to millions of Congress workers”, former Union minister Anand Sharma heaped praise on the former president for his speech at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur on Thursday.

Sharma was among the Congress leaders, including the former president’s daughter Sharmishtha, to voice strong public disapproval of Mukherjee’s decision to attend the Sangh’s Tritiya Varsh Varg event as the chief guest.

“The images of Pranab Da, veteran leader and ideologue at RSS Headquarters have anguished millions of Congress workers and all those who believed in pluralism, diversity and the foundational values of the Indian Republic (sic),” Sharma tweeted on Thursday evening.

Changing his tune after the former president’s speech on patriotism and nationalism, Sharma said on Friday that Pranab had emerged “proud and taller”.

“Pranam Pranab da, you have emerged proud and taller from Nagpur. There was never any doubt about your strength of character, moral courage, conviction and commitment to uphold the secular constitutional democracy (sic),” he tweeted.

Pranab had been at the receiving end of several statements and appeals by Congress leaders, urging him to reconsider his attendance at the RSS event. The former Union finance minister chose to keep mum, saying he would respond at the event.

In his speech, Pranab warned that any attempt to define India through "religion, hatred, dogmas and intolerance" will dilute our existence and said public discourses must be freed of all forms of violence.

Asserting that India's identity has emerged through a long-drawn process of confluence, assimilation and co-existence, Mukherjee said India's soul resides in pluralism and tolerance.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Mukherjee reminded the Modi government of following "rajdharma" founded upon diversity, non-violence, multi-culturalism and assimilation of ideas.

"Let the RSS and the BJP publicly commit today to change its character, orientation, thought process and path and accept the sagacious advice of their guest Pranab Mukherjee. It is time for (RSS chief) Mohan Bhagwat and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to answer. We await a reply," Surjewala said.

| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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