Mohan Bhagwat, Sarsanghchalak, RSS
Amid a raging controversy over former President and Congress veteran Pranab Mukherjee attending its event, the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Thursday said this was a "meaningless" debate and no one is an outsider for his organisation.
Speaking ahead of Mukherjee's speech, Bhagwat said Mukherjee will remain what he is and the Sangh will remain the Sangh even after the event.
Bhagwat said his organisation wants to unify the entire society and no one was an outsider for it.
People may have different views but they are all children of mother India, he said.
Bhagwat said the Sangh has been inviting prominent people to its event every year.
Those present at today's event also included former prime minister Lal Bahadu Shastri's son Sunil Shastri, as was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's nephew Ardhendu Bose along with his wife and son.
Earlier in the day, Mukherjee described Keshav Baliram Hedgewar as a "great son of Mother India" as he visited the birthplace of the RSS founding Sarsanghachalak.
"Today I came here to pay my respect and homage to a great son of Mother India," Mukherjee wrote in a visitor's book at Hedgewar's birthplace ahead of his much-anticipated speech at the RSS headquarters here.
While the Sangh is often described as a Hindu right-wing organisation, it calls itself a nationalist and cultural organisation rather than a political or religious one. It was founded by Hedgewar, on September 27, 1925 on Vijayadashami day at his house here.
The name 'Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh' was selected for the organisation on April 17, 1926 from a list of four names -- Jaripatka Mandal, Bharat Uddharak Mandal, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Mukherjee had to walk through narrow lanes to reach the house where Hedgewar was born and also removed his shoes before entering the place.
Mukherjee, who reached Nagpur Wednesday evening, has been invited by the RSS to address its Shiksha Varg and attend a parade by the Sangh workers on completion of the training camp.
It is an annual training camp, meant for swayamsevaks in their third year in the organisation. The RSS holds training camps for first, second and third-year swayamsewaks.
Mukherjee's decision to attent the RSS event has already triggered a major political slugfest, with several Congress leaders criticising his decision.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Thursday expressed his disapproval at Mukherjee visiting the RSS headquarters in Nagpur and said he did not expect this from him.
Mukherjee's daughter and Congress leader Sharmistha had on Wednesday said her father was giving the BJP and the Sangh a handle to plant false stories with his decision to speak at the RSS event.
His "speech will be forgotten" but the "visuals will remain", she said on Twitter. She also expressed hope that the former president would realise how the BJP's "dirty tricks department" works and warned him of the consequences of attending such a meet.
Some Congress leaders, including Jairam Ramesh and C K Jaffar Sharief, also wrote to him, while a few leaders of the party, including Anand Sharma, personally visited him in a bid to dissuade him from going to Nagpur.