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Skip RSS event: Jairam Ramesh to Pranab Mukherjee | India News

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NEW DELHI: Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has written to former President Pranab Mukherjee that his visit to the RSS headquarters will be a negation of his entire political life, even as media reports circulated that Mukherjee has indicated he will respond to issues in his speech in Nagpur.

Amid shock in Congress circles over Mukherjee’s proposed visit, read by party leaders as a move that bestows political legitimacy to the RSS, Ramesh shot off a letter describing himself as Mukherjee’s protege and urging him to call off his visit.

“Whatever I have to say, I will say in Nagpur. I have received several letters and phone calls but I haven’t responded to anyone yet,” Mukherjee was quoted as saying by Bengali daily Anandabazar Patrika even as sources close to the former President maintained that the reports were inaccurate.

Speaking to TOI, Ramesh said, “Meeting RSS functionaries in Rashtrapati Bhavan or at his residence is one thing. But going into their ‘garbh griha’ (sanctum sanctorum) in Nagpur is another. And it’s a convocation of people who would be ‘pracharaks’ and would go about the RSS job of demolishing the fundamentals of Indian democracy.”

While Congress leaders like Sheila Dikshit, Kumari Selja and P Chidambaram have spoken against Mukherjee’s decision, there is consternation in the “leadership group” of the party at the development which has taken them by surprise. A senior office-bearer is said to have strongly expressed his resentment in an in-house interaction, asking how the party veteran could go to Nagpur when a defamation case filed by RSS against Congress president Rahul Gandhi is pending in a Maharashtra court.

In what is said to be an articulation of anger in the party, Ramesh is learnt to have argued that Mukherjee’s very presence in the ‘garbh griha’ of Hindutva would provide unprecedented legitimacy to the RSS. The former President, however, is understood to see the matter in “apolitical” terms, as he feels that he shed his party role when he was elevated to the Rashtrapati Bhavan. He no longer viewed issues through a party or politically partisan prism even as his speech was unlikely to be an endorsement of the RSS, it has been argued.

Though democracy calls for engaging ideological adversaries, Ramesh is said to have argued that RSS represents a virulent thought which had opposed Ambedkar and Gandhi both.

Now that Mukherjee is going, Ramesh is reported to have asked him to tell RSS to stop slamming Jawaharlal Nehru and that their idea of ‘Hindu Rashtra’ would demolish the foundational values of the Republic.

Apparently in strong words, the former minister has wondered if Mukherjee was not betraying his ideology by going to the RSS function. He has reminded Mukherjee that he was a Congress veteran who had occupied top positions in party governments over the decades.

In a bid to tamp down the controversy, RSS recently said many eminent citizens have in the past addressed their function. However, Ramesh is learnt to have said that visits of other distinguished persons were dictated by their ambitions while Mukherjee had reached the top of his career with no more heights to scale.

Updated: June 3, 2018 — 2:35 am

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