Intolerance will only lead to dilution of national identity: Pranab Mukherjee at RSS event

Pranab Mukherjee, the former President of India will addressed around 600 RSS workers at its headquarters in Nagpur, reported the Indian Express.

Amid a general uproar towards the ex-President attending an RSS event in Nagpur, Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday delivered an address that garnered praise and appreciation on Twitter from Congress leaders and those with other ideological inclinations.

Addressing the closing ceremony of ‘Tritiya Varsha Sangh Shiksha Varg’, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) event today to mark the conclusion of a three-year training camp for swayamsevaks in Nagpur, the ex-President placed emphasis on upholding the characteristics of plurality, tolerance and unity that were fundamental to the nation.

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He defined terms such as ‘nationalism’, ‘nation’ and ‘patriotism’ and warned against the dangers of overlapping them in the context of India.

“In the words of the eminent historian Vincent Smith, India beyond all doubt possesses a deep underlying fundamental unity, far more profound than that produced either by geographical isolation or by political superiority. That unity transcends the innumerable diversities of blood, color, language, dress, manners, and sect,” he said.

Focusing on the ancient roots of Indian nationalism and its distinctiveness in today’s world, Mukherjee stressed on the importance of preserving such ideals above individual, ideological and political leanings. He quoted leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhai Patel and others.

“The construct of Indian nationalism is ‘Constitutional Patriotism’, which consists of an appreciation of our inherited and shared diversity; a readiness to enact one’s citizenship at different levels; the ability to self correct and learn from others,” he stated.

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His recorded speech went viral and garnered praise and appreciation from leaders across the social media platform, Twitter.

Ram Madhav, a senior BJP leader wrote, “Great address by Dr Pranab Mukherjee at Nagpur. His address and (RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s) address are in a way complementary to each other. ‘Nation first’ is the core message of both. Democracy and striving for the welfare of all the people is described by both as the core of ancient Indian nationalism.”

The spokesperson of the Congress Party, Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “Mukherjee’s speech showed the mirror to the RSS at their headquarters.”

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Sanjay Jha, yet another Congress spokesperson wrote, “Pranab Mukherjee taught RSS and the BJP that Indian nationalism is not the same as Hindu nationalism. India’s plurality is its strength, not treating the minorities as ‘others’.”

Senior Congress leader and former finance minister, P. Chidambaram also expressed his praise on the speech. “Happy that Mr Pranab Mukherjee told the RSS what is right about Congress’ ideology. It was his way of saying what is wrong about RSS’ ideology,”Chidambaram tweeted.

In an event in Delhi, the Congress leader had earlier requested the ex-President to tell the RSS what was wrong with their ideology.


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