K. Ramachandra Murthy
Former President Pranab Mukherjee spoke at the RSS meet on Thursday as a true Congressman shaming the Congress leaders who indulged in chest-beating even before the guest reached Nagpur. Though the Congress high command did not officially react to the news that Pranab was invited by the RSS to speak at its meeting, senior leaders like Chidambaram and Anand Sharma exhibited their impatience and arrogance. They should have waited for the statesman to speak before commenting on the invite. The party which claims to be liberal should have welcomed the former President’s decision to visit RSS headquarters. Heavens would not fall if he shares the dais with Mohan Bhagawat, the RSS chief. Once he became the president, he ceased to be a Congressman. After all, Pranab is a Hindu and he was invited by the RSS. He has no reason to refuse it. His accepting the invitation would not mean he would speak their language or convert to their ideology. After criticising the stalwart, the Congress leaders now say he has shown mirror to the RSS.
Nothing wrong in Pranab saying that Hedgewar was a great son of Mother India. He also invoked the vision of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. The former president told the audience to respect plurality saying that the nation is not bound by religion or race. He stressed that the country should move from anger to peace. Multiple faiths make us tolerant, he said. Pranab reminded the RSS that the soul of India lies in tolerance.
It was not only the Congress leaders who misunderstood the motive of the former president in accepting the invite, but even the Hindu zealots found an opportunity to throw mud at Sonia Gandhi and the Congress. There were stories in social media that Pranab had in his book chronicled that Sonia Gandhi was anti-Hindu. The media also made its contribution by weaving stories saying that Pranab has his eyes on the job of prime minister. The theory floated was that in case the BJP gets less than 200 seats in 2019 elections, Modi will have to give way to a sober person to lead NDA since the stern face of the present prime minister would put off any prospective ally. In such a scenario, the RSS might come up with a proposal to make Pranab the leader of NDA-III. This proved to be irresponsible speculation after Pranab spoke his mind. He continued the true legacy of the Congress party. RSS is not untouchable. All the top leaders of the party invited the RSS leaders for discussions treating them with courtesy that was due to them. In present day politics, both the BJP and the Congress have been indulging in leg-pulling and mudslinging. The intolerance, against which the former president counselled the nation, has been ruling the roost. It has to change. That was the essence of Pranab’s speech at Nagpur.