Kolkatta: Breaking his silence on the appeals made by a number of people who urged Pranab Mukherjee to decline the RSS invite to address its event, the Former President of India on Saturday asked them to wait for his speech in Nagpur.
“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.
Nagpur is the city where RSS - India's largest and most organised Hindu outfit has its headquarters. The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) which is ruling in New Delhi and many states of India is its political arm.
Several senior Congress leaders, including Jairam Ramesh, CK Jaffer Sharief and Ramesh Chennithala, had written to Mukherjee asking him to reconsider his decision. However the most sane advise was from senior Congress leader and former union minister P Chidambaram.
"Now that Pranab Mukherjee has accepted the invitation, there is no point debating on whether he should go or not", Chidambaram, senior Congress leader and former Union Minister, said.
“More important thing to say is, Sir now that you have accepted invitation, please go there and tell them what is wrong with their ideology,” he said while speaking at the launch of Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi’s book Straight Talk.
P. Chidambaram was among the first who at a meeting of state police chiefs in New Delhi in August 2010 had urged Indians to beware of "Saffron terror". The All India Congress Committee (AICC) later adopted the resolution at its Burari plenary session held in December 2010 that sought to investigate the role of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and all like minded sister organisations in terror attacks.
Interestingly, if a Congress leader is to be believed, it was Pranab Mukherjee who had actually moved the AICC resolution seeking a probe into the link of the largest Hindu organistation in India with terrorists.
It was Mukherjee who had moved the political resolution at the AICC’s Burari plenary session in 2010, asking the then UPA government to “investigate links between terrorists and the RSS and its sister organisations that have been uncovered in some recent cases", the unnamed Congress leader is quoted by The Indian Express as saying.
Talks of RSS link with terrorists started taking rounds in 2006 after a bomb blast at the house of an alleged RSS worker Laxman Rajkondawar a retired irrigation engineer in Nanded, Maharashtra. The blast killed his son 29-year old Naresh Rajkondawar and 31-year old Himanshu Panse. Three others were seriously injured and one injured Rahul Pande escaped from the site but was later caught by the police.
Later investigation into the incident revealed that the accused were making bomb when it accidentally went off. The investigation further revealed that bomb was supposed to be used to target Muslims in Aurangabad.
However it was after the 2008 Malegaon blasts when the then Maharashtra ATS Chief Hemant Karkare arrested a number of people, including a serving army officer and a Sadhavi, that demand to probe involvement of the RSS in terror acts gathered momentum.
The Congress however started dissociating itself from its earlier stand after a strong reaction by the BJP – the political wing of RSS. The BJP alleged that the usage of ‘Saffron terror’ in the past was intended to woo minority support by raising the issue of Hindu extremism and BJP-RSS links.
Meanwhile, other top Congress leaders, including A K Antony, declined to comment on Pranab Mukhrejee's reported plan to adddress the RSS event.
“He is an intelligent person. He has been the President of India. He is secular minded. So there will be no change in his behaviour by going there. He will remain the same,” former Union Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told The Indian Express.
“I think the best person to answer that question is the former President himself. The invitation was extended to him. He has accepted the invitation. Ostensibly he is going. So therefore, if there are any queries with regard to that, he is the best person to answer that,” said Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari when asked how the party viewed Mukherjee’s decision.
According to the RSS, Pranab Mukherjee will be the chief guest at its valedictory session of the ‘Tritiya Varsh Varg’ or the Third Year Course on June 7. Mukherjee is learnt to have given his consent to participate in the programme. “We have invited the former President of India and he has given his consent for participating in the programme,” a top RSS functionary said.
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