Breaking his silence over the controversy that he has been courting for accepting the invitation to attend an RSS event, former President Pranab Mukherjee has said that he will express his views during his address on the occasion.
“I will say whatever I have to in Nagpur. I have received several letters, requests and phone calls but I have not responded to any of them,” Mukherjee has told Bengali newspaper Anandabazar Patrika.
Mukherjee accepted the invitation to be the Chief Guest at the valedictory function of Third Year Sangha Shiksha Varga (SSV) of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at Nagpur.
However, his decision has not gone down well with the Congress as there has been an unease within the grand old party.
Mukherjee, who was groomed by former prime minister Indira Gandhi, has remained a Congressman to the core and was even described as his “political guru” by Rahul Gandhi.
Sources said the reports, coming at a time when Rahul is relentlessly attacking the BJP and the RSS, and saying that the 2019 national elections will primarily be a battle between two opposite ideologies and ideas of India, had created a buzz in the party circles.
They also came as a surprise to many in the Congress, who wondered why there was no confirmation from the invitee’s office yet.
“The RSS is saying they have invited Mukherjee and he has accepted the invite. But we haven’t heard of any confirmation from the former president’s office,” said a senior Congress leader.
The Congress, however, chose to play safe over the controversy, saying that it would not like to comment now and would rather like to wait till the event was over.
Senior Congress leaders, including former Union Minister CK Jaffer Sharief, reportedly urged the former President to reconsider his decision to visit RSS headquarters in Nagpur on June 7.
“A person of your stature, being secular and having served in various capacities, including the highest position of Rastrapati, visiting RSS at this point of time before parliament elections is not proper. We request you to avoid visiting Sangh Parivar in the interest of secularism and the country,” the Congress leaders had stated in a letter addressed to the former President.
Union minister and senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari last week welcomed former President Pranab Mukherjee’s decision to accept an invitation to attend an RSS event, saying it is a “good start” and “political untouchability” is not good.
Gadkari, the Lok Sabha MP from Nagpur, also said the RSS was not Pakistan’s ISI but an organisation of nationalists. “Mukherjee’s acceptance of the invitation is a good start. Political untouchability is not good,” Gadkari had told the mediapersons.