Bengal leaders ‘shocked, surprised’
Union Human Resource Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Saturday that there was “nothing unusual” in former President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to the RSS headquarters on June 7 to deliver a lecture, but political parties in Mr. Mukherjee’s home State are “shocked and surprised”.
Many said they were “appalled” by the former President’s decision.
“Pranab babu taught us about secularism; made us aware about the dangers of the RSS and how our leaders were killed by the sectarian forces. Now he is visiting the RSS headquarters; I am appalled,” Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said.
‘No reentry into politics’
While mentioning that Mr. Mukherjee has always maintained a “cordial relationship” with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and “even hosted lunches” at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Mr. Chowdhury reiterated that the former President had the right to act “as per his will as he is not attached to any political party or the government”.
“But there is a definite contradiction between what he preached all these years and what he is doing now,” Mr. Chowdhury said. He, however, denied any possibility of Mr. Mukherjee’s reentry into politics.
State Minister Subrata Mukherjee, a long-time associate of Mr. Mukherjee in the Congress in the State before he joined the Trinamool Congress, provides a guarded reaction. “Let us listen to what he says,” Mr. Subrata Mukherjee said.
However, Debabrata Biswas, All India Forward Bloc State general secretary, said what Mr. Mukherjee said in Nagpur was “not important”.
“The fact that he has decided to visit has given a fillip to the RSS; suddenly they are discussed. This will benefit the RSS,” said a “shocked” Mr. Biswas. He said the RSS lacked a “proper national leader” who could appeal to the masses in India and thus they sought help from the Congress from time to time.
“They mention Sardar Patel as one close to their ideology, who always opposed them. They took Mahatma Gandhi to their camp in 1934. Now they are taking Pranab da. These are moves to gain legitimacy. However, the Congress too never had a linear policy about the RSS and it changed from time to time,” he added. Mr. Biswas partially blamed the Congress for the development.