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Former President Pranab Mukherjee accepting invite to RSS event should be none of Congress' business
When former President Pranab Mukherjee accepted an invitation from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat to attend an event at the Sangh's headquarters in Nagpur on June 7, the Congress started objecting to the visit.

According to the Congress Pranab Mukherjee shouldn't have accepted the invite since RSS is a communal outfit and is also linked with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Frankly speaking, the Congress is insisting that being a Congressman Pranab Mukherjee should avoid attending the RSS event.

But the point here is whether Pranab Mukherjee is still a Congressman? As per the norm, the moment one gets elected as the President or Vice-President of India, that individual becomes apolitical. The same also applies to Speakers of the Lok Sabha and state assemblies. In fact former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee had exhibited this apolitical trait when he refused to toe his party CPI(M)'s line in the no-confidence motion against the UPA-I government following erstwhile PM Manmohan Singh's nuclear deal with USA.

As a former President Pranab Mukherjee is free to attend any event organised by a party or outfit that is neither officially banned nor guilty of a crime. And the RSS is neither banned nor has it been convicted for any communal or anti-national activity, period. Yes many might have ideological differences with the RSS but it shouldn't be forgotten that the RSS is the world's biggest voluntary missionary organization.

Moreover, Pranab Mukherjee is not the first former President who is going to be attending an RSS event? Dr Zakir Hussain had too attended an RSS event. So does that make him communal? Eminent personalities like Sarvodaya leader Prabhakar Rao, Lokmanya Jayaprakash Narayan, Justice KT Thomas, noted scientists G Madhavan Nair, K Radhakrishnan and K Kasturirangan; and General Karriappa have attended Sangh programmes. Are all of them communal?

Even Mahatma Gandhi had visited the RSS camp at Wardha in 1934 and was impressed with the discipline of its cadres. He later visited another RSS camp at Delhi in 1946.

In 1963, Nehru invited 3000 RSS members to participate in the 1963 Republic Day parade as he was impressed by the services rendered by the Sang volunteers at the borders during the 1962 Indo-China War. In 1977 former PM Indira Gandhi had unveiled the Vivekananda Rock Memorial on the invitation of RSS functionary and the architect of the memorial, Eknath Ranade.

RSS might have remained under the clout of controversy at times but how can a former President toe the line of the Congress despite being officially apolitical?

Former Union Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday said that since the invite had been accepted, the focus would remain now on Mukherjee's speech at the event.Chidambaram even offered a piece of advice for Mukherjee: "Sir, now that you have accepted their invite, please go there and tell them what's wrong with their ideology."

The Congressmen should now patiently wait for Pranab Mukherjee's speech at the RSS event and if they find anything objectionable only then should they raise questions. However, they can't object to a former President visitingthe RSS headquarters just because it doesn't add politically to the party.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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