The Congress on Thursday said that former President Pranab Mukherjee has shown the mirror of truth of India's pluralism to the RSS, minutes after the veteran Congress leader finished his address in Nagpur.
"Dr Mukherjee's visit to the RSS HQ had led to a wide range of discussions and concerns. Today Pranab Mukherjee has shown the mirror to RSS at their HQ. He talked of plurality, tolerance and multiculturalism," Congress leader and AICC communications in charge Randeep Surjewala said at a press briefing.
Surjewala said Mukherjee has "reminded the RSS of the history of India."
"He taught the RSS that India's beauty lies in its tolerance for difference ideas, religions and languages. Is RSS ready to listen?" he added.
The Congress also asked the RSS and the BJP if they would change their "character, orientation, thought process" after accepting the sagacious advice of Mukherjee.
"Let the RSS and the BJP publicly commit today to change its character, orientation, thought process and path and accept the sagacious advice of their guest Pranab Mukherjee. It is time for (RSS chief) Mohan Bhagwat and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to answer. We await a reply," Surjewala said.
Surjewala said Mukherjee reminded the Modi government of following "rajdharma" founded upon diversity, non-violence, multi-culturalism and assimilation of ideas.
"Is RSS ready to admit its mistakes and ready to adapt India's pluralism, secularism and diversity? Will RSS give up its prejudice towards women and marginalised? Will it give up its inherent character of subjugation and violence?" he asked.
On a closely watched visit that irked his Congress party, Mukherjee, who was India’s President from 2012 to 2017, said pluralism, a common history and the celebration of diversity make the country special.
"Any attempt at defining our nationhood with religion, region, hatred and intolerance will only dilute our identity," Mukherjee said at a function of the RSS’s third-year officers’ training camp, discussing the notions of “nation, nationalism and patriotism”.
Bharatiya Janata Party National
General Secretary Ram Madhav tweeted:
Great address by Dr Pranab Mukharjee at Nagpur. His address n Dr Bhagwat’s address r in a way complementary to each other. Nation First is d core message of both. Democracy n striving for d welfare of all d people is described by both as d core of ancient Indian nationalism
— Ram Madhav (@rammadhavbjp) June 7, 2018
In a veiled attack, Congress leader Manish Tewari tweeted a couplet just after Pranab Mukherjee ended his speech:
THIS COUPLET APPLIES APTLY TO @CitiznMukherjee TODAY
ज़फर आदमी उन को ना जानिएगा
गो हो वो कैसा ही साहिबे फह्मो ज़का
जिसे ऐश में यादे खुदा न रही
जिसे तैश में खौफे खुदा न रहा
CALL HIM NOT A MAN,’ZAFAR', HOWSOEVER WISE, WHO,IN JOY, FORGETS GOD,IN RAGE HAS NO FEAR OF THE ALL MIGHTY
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) June 7, 2018
Reacting to the much-awaited speech by Mukherjee, CPI(M) general-secretary Sitaram Yechury questioned him for not "reminded the RSS of its history."
He would have done well to remind the RSS of its own history - banned thrice by Congress governments, first time by Sardar Patel, following Mahatma Gandhi's assassination. "RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhiji’s death", Patel wrote to Golwalkar.
— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) June 7, 2018
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said both Mukherjee and Bhagwat said the same thing: "The message was clear, be it Mohan Bhagwat or be it the former President of India, both of them said the same thing-
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan condemned Mukherjee's visit to the RSS headquarters. The senior CPI-M politburo member said in a Facebook post that the former president's action has come as a shock to nationalists "who keep the principles of secularism close to their heart."
His position and visit would only help and encourage those forces that try to build Hindurashtra, Vijayan said adding it should have been avoided.
The stand of Pranab Mukherjee that "dented the image of the post of president" could be seen only as a political move and so it is condemnable, Vijayan said.
Congress veteran Pranab Mukherjee, in his address at the RSS event on Thursday, said intolerance will only dilute India's national
identity and Indian nationalism emanated from universalism, assimilation and co-existence.
"In India, we derive our strength from tolerance and respect our pluralism. We celebrate our diversity," Mukherjee said.