Speaking at an RSS event at Sangh’s headquarters in Nagpur, former President and Congress veteran Pranab Mukherjee today warned that any attempt to define India through “religion, dogma or intolerance” will only dilute the country’s existence.
Mukherjee said intolerance will only dilute India’ national identity and Indian nationalism emanated from universalism, assimilation and co-existence.
“In India, we derive our strength from tolerance, and respect our pluralism. We celebrate our diversity,” he said.
“I am here to share my understanding on nation, nationalism and patriotism about our country which is ‘Bharat’,” said Mukherjee, who served as President of India between 2012 and 2017.
Asserting that India’s identity has emerged through a long-drawn process of confluence, assimilation and co-existence, Mukherjee, in a strong-worded speech on ‘nation, nationalism and patriotism’ in context of Bharat, said India’s soul resides in pluralism and tolerance.
Mukherjee’s message to hundreds of ‘pracharaks’ and top-brass of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which is often described as a Hindu right-wing organisation, was described as a ‘mirror of truth to the RSS’ by the Congress, whose several leaders have so far been critical of his decision to attend the event here at the Sangh headquarters.
Mukherjee cited an excerpt from former Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s book, “Discovery of India”, where he had written on secularism’s importance in the context of India.
“It was this very nationalism that Pandit Nehru so vividly expressed in the book ‘Discovery of India’, he wrote, “I am convinced that nationalism can only come out of the ideological fusion of Hindu, Muslims, Sikhs and other groups in India.” he said.
Earlier today, Mukherjee was welcomed by senior RSS functionaries, including Bhagwat, on his arrival at the RSS headquarters.
The Sangh describes itself as a nationalist and cultural organisation rather than a political or religious one. It was founded by Hedgewar, on September 27, 1925 on Vijayadashami day at his house here.
The name ‘Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’ was selected for the organisation on April 17, 1926 from a list of four names — Jaripatka Mandal, Bharat Uddharak Mandal, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Mr. Bhagwat said the Sangh has inviting prominent people to its event every year.
Those present at the June 7 event also included former Prime Minister Lal Bahadu Shastri’s son Sunil Shastri, as also Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s nephew Ardhendu Bose along with his wife and son.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Mukherjee described Hedgewar as a “great son of Mother India’ as he visited the birthplace of the RSS founding Sarsanghachalak.
“Today I came here to pay my respect and homage to a great son of Mother India,” Mr. Mukherjee wrote in a visitor’s book at Hedgewar’s birthplace ahead of his much-anticipated speech at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur.