Congress leaders and innumerable others who believe in secularism as a running soul of Indian democracy, were in a state of shock when they came to know that senior party leader and former President Pranab Mukherjee accepted to become a special invitee to a function organised by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh at its headquarters in Nagpur. They waited with bated breath for his address on June 7 and when his 30-minute address to the RSS trainees came to an end, they took a sigh a relief that their friend, philosopher and guide was not impressed by the ideology of K B Hedgeqwar who launched the Hindutva organisation in 1925 to serve the cause of Hindutva and preach hatred among different communities. But while paying tribute to the founder, former President said he was a great son of mother India. There was nothing new in his address. What he said, he has repeated many a time in the past and sometimes in the presence of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Prime Minister was least impressed by his familiar views, so were the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and the trainees. It was a historic opportunity for Pranab Mukherjee to speak harsh and bitter facts, but he could not gird up his loins to tell the truth that the very establishment of the organisation to prepare and train Hindu youth in self-defence with a baseless notion that they may become the victim of minority attacks was wrong and open aggression.
When ignoring the severe criticism upon accepting the invite for a week, he said he would open his mind in the meeting and that is why people were hopeful that the Congress stalwart and seasoned statesman would tell the organisation in many words that since its inception, its teaching that only Hindus are the natives of India and Muslims and others do not belong here was wrong. The philosophy of the RSS is based on the misleading and baseless thinking that Muslim invaders kept India enslaved for more than seven hundred years and during that time natives were suppressed and Hindu worship places were demolished. Hedgewar, Savarkar, Gowalkar and others advocated that the only way out was Hindu Rashtra. This is a communal travesty of history to mislead the majority community. Except the BJP which is the political wing of the RSS, all other political parties rejected this biased, baseless, false and communal view. The Congress has been in the forefront to expose communal and fascist ideology of the RSS. In the wake of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, allegation of involvement was levelled against the RSS also and the organisation was banned by the then Union Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Then again in 1977 and 1992, it was banned. Congress President Rahul Gandhi alleged that the RSS was involved in the conspiracy to shoot down Mahatma Gandhi in the ‘prarthnasabha’ and he is still facing a defamation case in this regard. Pranab Mukherjee himself as a veteran Congress leader levelled serious charges of involvement in communal violence against the RSS.
While addressing the meeting, the former President forgot the black deeds and went deep into the history to recall and remind the organisation that pluralism, tolerance and secularism form the article of faith for India and discrimination cannot be allowed in the name of religion. These are familiar views of the former President spoken of again and again. No reprimand or even no reminder about the ugly past and the current dubious role of the organisation in the present government was uttered by him. Visiting the RSS headquarters in Nagpur, Pranab Mukherjee had only given the organisation a sanctity for which it never deserved. He did not salute the ‘bhagwajhanda’ but his morphed photos saluting in a RSS way appeared on social media hurting the feelings of many including his daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee, a Congress leader who forewarned him that his speech would be forgotten, but his pictures would remain. Congress may or may not be adversely affected, but the sole beneficiary is the RSS.