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Pranab speaking from RSS headquarters

Pranab speaking from RSS headquarters
The controversy over former President Pranab Mukherjee accepting an RSS invite to address one of its functions in Nagpur on June 7 is growing by the day. For now, Mukherjee has said that he would attend the function and respond to the requests to reconsider his decision regarding the speech. "Whatever I have to say, I will say in Nagpur. I have received several letters, requests, and phone calls, but I haven't responded to anyone yet," he was quoted by Bengali newspaper Anandabazar Patrika as saying. Mukherjee has been invited as the Chief Guest at the concluding function of Sangh Shiksha Varg, an annual training camp. While many Congress leaders have questioned the acceptance of the RSS invite by Mukherjee, the BJP and RSS have welcomed the move. "Former President Pranab Mukherjee's acceptance to attend RSS event in Nagpur sends a message to the country that on vital issues there should be dialogue and adversaries are not enemies. Questions raised on RSS-Hindutva is being answered by his acceptance of the invitation," RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha said.
Founded in 1925, RSS is a nationalist organisation that believes in the supremacy of the nation. It believes that since the majority of the population of the country is Hindu, it is important to sensitise them about the role that they are expected to play in the interest of the country. RSS aims to unite the Hindus and make them responsible for safeguarding the country. For this purpose, it maintains a countrywide network of Sakhas and has formed different branches and outfits. Its political wing BJP is in power at the Centre and in many states. But for BJP to come to power, both RSS and BJP had to pursue a communal agenda, which is in sharp contrast to other mainstream political parties like Congress that professes its commitment to secularism. While RSS maintains that it is not against the Muslims or the Christians, its analysis of Indian history concludes that the Muslims and the Christians invaded the country and ruled it for centuries. This became possible because the Hindu kings of the time were not united and fighting among themselves. More than fighting the Muslims or the Christians, the RSS ideology dwells on bringing reforms to the Hindu society, making them proud of their history and culture. Over the years, its cadres fanned out to all over the country and created a support base. BJP's rise to power is attributed to the support that it receives from RSS and its cadres spread all over the country. In contrast to RSS and BJP, Congress has been advocating for secularism and democracy. It advocates that the country should be run as per the Constitution and that every citizen irrespective of the religion should be treated equally. But as RSS and BJP try to create a separate vote bank of Hindus, Congress during its rule in the country was accused of practising the politics of appeasement, in which Muslims and Christians were being favoured.
At a time when BJP is in power in a large number of states and the Centre, it seems that the hard work put in by RSS and BJP over the decades have finally started to pay off. But as the recent by-elections point out, not all of the Hindus are with BJP. An alliance between Dalits and other backward castes (OBC) in Uttar Pradesh has summarily trounced BJP candidates in recent by-elections. This proves that despite BJP being in power in most states, some sections of the Hindus are still not convinced by the RSS ideology, especially Dalits and OBCs have opted not to vote for BJP. And, this is a major concern for BJP in the next Lok Sabha elections. Ever since BJP came to power at the Centre in 2014, RSS has been trying to woo the minorities and others who look at these two organisation with a sense of doubt. By inviting former President Mukherjee to its programme, RSS has tried to show that it is not averse to leaders of other political faith. But Mukherjee's acceptance of the RSS invite shows that the policy of untouchability being practised by some parties against RSS is changing. RSS is a big organisation characterised by as Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu has put it: Self-discipline, self-respect, self-defence, self-reliance, social reform, social consciousness, social movement, selfless service — all guided by the philosophy of supremacy of the nation. Now, one needs to wait till June 7 what Mukherjee has to say about the organisation.
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