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Pranab Mukherjee RSS speech: Relieved Congress says Sangh shown the mirror, daughter Sharmishtha slams BJP; here’s who said what

Former President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday delivered a statesmans-like speech at the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh headquarters in Nagpur. Addressing 700 new recruits with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat by his side, Mukherjee spoke vividly about issues related to the idea of nationalism and democracy. As Mukherjee concluded his speech, a worried Congress breathed a sigh of relief as the latter refrained from making any comments in regard to the grand old party. The Congress, which was earlier critical of Mukherjees decision to share the stage with RSS leaders, took a U-turn from its stance and said the latter showed a mirror to the RSS and the BJP. So much so that within minutes of Mukherjee concluding his speech, the Opposition termed it as a drubbing to the RSS and Bharatiya Janata Party. Soon after the speech, Congress addressed a press conference where it said that former president Pranab Mukherjee has showed the mirror of truth to the RSS. The Congress further asked whether the Sangh and the BJP would admit mistakes and change their character, orientation, thought process after accepting his sagacious advice. Speaking to media Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that Mukherjee reminded the Modi government of following rajdharma founded upon diversity, non-violence, multi-culturalism and assimilation of ideas. Pranab Mukherjee has shown Mirror of Truth to RSS, to follow Indias civilisational values. Will RSS and the prime minister change path and accept his sagacious advice? he asked. But ahead of the speech, senior Congress leader and Sonia Gandhis close confidante Ahmed Patel had come down heavily on former presidents decision to attend the event. This was not expected out of Pranab da, he had tweeted. Voices from Pranabs family Mukherjees daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee, who is also a leader of the Congress party, said that as she had feared and cautioned her father against, the dirty tricks department of the BJP-RSS was at work in full swing. Sharmistha had vehemently opposed her fathers decision to visit the RSS headquarters. Expressing her disapproval, Sharmishtha had tweeted that BJP willuse dirty tricks to misuse Mukherjees name for its gains. See, this is exactly what I was fearing and warned my father about. Not even few hours have passed, but BJP\/RSS dirty tricks dept is at work in full swing! she said, responding to a tweet showing a morphed picture of Pranab Mukherjee. Voices from the Left CPI(M) general-secretary Sitaram Yechury questioned Mukherjee for not mentioning the assassination of father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi during his speech. In the history capsule delivered by Pranab Mukherjee at the RSS headquarters, the absence of Mahatma Gandhi and his assassination speaks volumes, Yechury tweeted. Yechury also said that Mukherjee should have reminded the RSS of its history. He would have done well to remind the RSS of its own history – banned thrice by Congress governments, first time by Sardar Patel, following Mahatma Gandhis assassination. RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhijis death, Patel wrote to Golwalkar, he said in another tweet. Senior CPI(M) leader and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan condemned Mukherjees visit to the RSS headquarters. Vijayan also condemned Mukherjees showering of praise on RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar. He said that Mukherjees action has come as a shock to nationalists who keep the principles of secularism close to their heart. In the highlight of his speech, curiously awaited in political circles, Mukherjee warned that any attempt to define India through religion, hatred, dogmas and intolerance will dilute Indias existence and said public discourses must be freed of all forms of violence. Delivering a strongly-worded speech on nation, nationalism and patriotism in context of Bharat, Mukherjee asserted that Indias identity has emerged through a long-drawn process of confluence, assimilation and co-existence.

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