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Pranab Mukherjee's Last Speech as President Might Hold the Clues to His RSS Address Today

Several senior Congress leaders, including Jairam Ramesh, CK Jaffer Sharief and Ramesh Chennithala, have written to Mukherjee asking him to reconsider his decision.

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Updated:June 7, 2018, 3:41 PM IST
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New Delhi: As speculation grows around Pranab Mukherjee’s address at the RSS headquarters on Thursday, his last speech as President in 2017 might provide the clues that reflect the veteran leader’s deepest concerns that he has held dear over his many years in public life.

In his last speech as the President, Mukherjee had expressed his concern about increasing violence and how darkness, fear and mistrust was at the heart of this violence. Power of non-violence has to be resurrected to build a caring society to ensure participation of all sections of the people, he said.

"The multiplicity in culture, faith and language is what makes India special. We derive our strength from tolerance. It has been part of our collective consciousness for centuries. There are divergent strands in public discourse. We may argue, we may agree or we may not agree.

"But we cannot deny the essential prevalence of multiplicity of opinion. Otherwise, a fundamental character of our thought process will wither away," said the lifelong Congressman on the last day of his career.

Several senior Congress leaders, including Jairam Ramesh, CK Jaffer Sharief and Ramesh Chennithala, have written to Mukherjee asking him to reconsider his decision. Salman Khurshid too said he would not have accepted the invitation.

“If I were in his place I wouldn’t go, but then this is up to him. RSS should also practise what they preach. I have personally been a victim of their intolerance and they have different yardsticks,” said Khurshid.

In contrast, Congressman Chidambaram said Mukherjee should tell the RSS what is wrong with the outfit's ideology when he addresses its event.

However, what he is going to speak about at the Nagpur gathering remains a guess. He has said whatever he has to speak would be only known when he addresses the meeting.

“Whatever I have to say, I will say in Nagpur. I have received several letters and phone calls but I haven’t responded to anyone yet,” Mukherjee was quoted as saying by Bengali daily Anandabazar Patrika.



Responding to the reactions among the political class over the invitation by RSS to Pranab, the organisation called it "unseemly outrage".

"The invitation has been extended to him with the idea that this will be an invaluable opportunity to listen to his views. Also, he will have the opportunity to listen to the views of the Sangh and have a firsthand experience of Sangh as well. This exchange of views and ideas is intrinsic to the ‘Bharatiya’ concept of dialogue, this invitation and its acceptance is but a continuation of that democratic tradition enshrined in our cultural ethos," said Manmohan Vaidya, joint general secretary of RSS.

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| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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