Pranab Mukherjee’s speech to RSS earns both praise and brickbats 

Several politicians and commentators praised or criticised Pranab Mukherjee’s speech on diversity and inclusion being part of Indian nationalism, delivered at RSS HQ in Nagpur on June 7

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NH Web Desk

In the end, they could not bring themselves to clap even once for the guest they had been so thrilled to host. The RSS leadership sat in stony silence as former President Pranab Mukherjee delivered a speech about Indian nationalism being derived from tolerance, respect for pluralism and celebration of diversity. "Any attempt at defining our nationhood in terms of dogmas and identities of religion, region, hatred and intolerance will only lead to dilution of our national identity,” said the former President to the champions of the idea of a Hindu Rashtra.

The Congress Party applauded the speech, saying “Pranab Mukherjee has shown the ‘Mirror of Truth’ to the RSS at RSS headquarters in Nagpur by reminding them of India’s ‘pluralism’, ‘tolerance’, ‘secularism’ and ‘inclusiveness’ as an article of faith and soul of the country,” in a press conference after Mukherjee’s speech.

However, other commentators lamented the fact that Pranab Mukherjee had given RSS the opportunity to “claim him as their own”, pointing to Mukherjee’s praise for RSS founders at Nagpur and the powerful symbolism of him sharing a platform with the RSS leadership, including RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury wished that Mukherjee had spoken about the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, given that "RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhiji’s death”.

Even others wondered if the former president was discomfited at the striking absence of the Indian flag or singing of the national anthem at the RSS valedictory program.

Here is a collection of very mixed reactions to the former president’s speech:

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Published: 07 Jun 2018, 9:48 PM