Former President Pranab Mukherjee’s daughter criticised him on Wednesday for agreeing to attend a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh event in Nagpur. Sharmistha Mukherjee tweeted that her father’s visit to the Hindutva organisation’s headquarters on Thursday will give the Bharatiya Janata Party and the RSS an “undue advantage”. She added that his speech at the event may not make a lasting impression, but the visuals will remain.
“...Even RSS wouldn’t believe that you are going to endorse its views in your speech,” said Mukherjee’s daughter. “But the speech will be forgotten, visuals will remain and those will be circulated with fake statements.”
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel too tweeted his displeasure at Mukherjee’s decision to attend the RSS event. “I did not expect this from Pranab da,” he said. Sonia Gandhi had asked Patel to tweet on Wednesday, NDTV reported, quoting sources.
A few Congress leaders had earlier downplayed Mukherjee’s decision, while leaders such as Jairam Ramesh, Ramesh Chennithala and CK Jaffer Sharief had urged him to reconsider his decision. Former Union finance minister P Chidambaram has asked Mukherjee to tell the RSS what is wrong with their ideology.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday, however, praised the RSS and said there was no reason for anyone to object to the Hindutva organisation’s principles.
Pranab Mukherjee refused to respond to the controversy. “I will say whatever I have to in Nagpur,” said the former Congress leader. “I have received several letters, requests and phone calls but I have not responded to any of them.”
Mukherjee will address the organisation’s education wing on the last day of a 25-day camp. He is scheduled to arrive at the venue at 5.30 pm on Thursday. He will have tea with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and Bhaiyyaji Joshi. Mukherjee will offer a floral tribute at the memorial of RSS founder KB Hedgewar. He is scheduled to make a 20-minute speech at 6.15 pm before Bhagwat takes the stage.