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Pranab Da is outspoken and committed to diversity

  By Vijay Darda | 11-06-2018

What is relevant now is not why he went to the RSS programme. What is important is what he said there.

Even as Dr Pranab Mukherjee came under sharp criticism from all quarters for accepting the invitation to attend the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) programme, he refused to answer any questions. He said that he would answer only after reaching Nagpur. The interesting aspect is that even though he did not speak anything in Nagpur on the controversy, he gave a cogent reply. He spoke frankly and stated the truth. Tolerance is our identity, if we practise discrimination and hatred, then India’s identity will be in jeopardy. We are all acquainted with this truth and also understand, but only an intense and thoughtful person like Pranab Da can have the gumption to state so categorically at the RSS programme.

Yes, those who believe in secularism may still be upset about why Pranab went to grace the Sangh’s programme. And where was the need to call Hedgewar ji a patriot? Many Congress leaders have raised this question too. Ahmed Patel has also raised this issue. The CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and others are saying that the very thought of Pranab Da gracing the programme of an organization whose hands are stained with the blood of Mahatma Gandhi is beyond comprehension. Well, this is a matter of thinking and different people can have different opinions. Pranab Da is a respected politician of this country and has extensive experience. He must not have decided without giving it a thought!

I know Pranab Da very closely. He says only that what is right. Let me tell you an anecdote. This happened when Atal ji was the Prime Minister. He was speaking on some issue in the House. I was also present in the House. Suddenly Pranab Da got up from his seat and came to Atal ji. The opposition started shouting in enthusiasm, but Pranab Da gestured to request that no noise be made. He whispered something into Atal ji’s ears. After that Atal ji stopped his speech and said that he wanted to withdraw his statement and would speak on the issue the next day. Actually, Atal ji was not giving the right information about what he was saying. Many members of the Congress were of the opinion that Atal ji should have been allowed to speak what he was speaking. The next day he could have been embarrassed in the House! Pranab Da had said that the Prime Minister’s statement should not be wrong under any circumstances. Sonia ji called Pranab Da on this issue, Congressmen thought that she would be angry but Sonia ji just appreciated Dada. Once Indira ji was speaking on a national subject at the Congress session, Pranab Da had then said to her silently, “It is not so, it is like this.” Such is Pranab Da’s approach. He is a frank person.

Well, as far as the question of his attending the Sangh programme is concerned, I feel that whenever the people of opposite ideology give an opportunity to talk, that opportunity should not be allowed to slip past. It is essential to interact with such people and state one’s viewpoint unhesitatingly.

Every organization has its own ideology and thinking. The Left has its own thinking and that of the Right wing is diametrically different from theirs. The Left also has different ideology. I think there should be resilience in thoughts. Rigidity carries the risk of breakdown. Breakage means destruction! The example is in front of us. Today China has changed, Russia too has changed, but India’s communists have not changed. Had they embraced the change with the passage of time, the communists would not have faced the kind of misfortune they are facing in India today. I think even the RSS is not untouched by the winds of change, but it is not known how much of this change ushered in by Mohan Bhagwat ji is agreeable to the fanatic members of the RSS. There can also be debate on what was the role of the RSS in the national freedom movement and what the consequences were. But Pranab Da has rightly said that the Sangh loves Hindustan only, not Pakistan!

And as far as the question of the Sangh’s thinking about religion and community is concerned, Pranab Da gave a clear reply at the Sangh programme. The identity of this country is derived from the people of every sect and every caste living here. There is no question of supremacy of any religion. The beauty of India is that we respect every religion, every sect, every caste, every dialect, every language and people of every field. It is only harmonious relationship and attachment to each other that can keep us united. The people of various religions live in the country. There are 122 languages and 1600 dialects spoken across the country. If they all start to quarrel with each other, then where will India be? Indeed, this diversity is the identity of India.

This lesson taught by Pranab Da should be learnt by all those people who are engaged in splitting the society in the name of caste, religion and language. Hatred begets violence. Pranab Da has rightly said that the anger in our society is rising and consequently violence is on the rise. There is the need to end this anger and violence. These thoughts of Pranab Da should not be seen as a mere speech, but should be accepted by all as the need of the hour so that we can move towards a better tomorrow.

We all Indians should nurse a sense of tolerance and harmony towards each other. Today, Maoism and Naxalism have affected many parts of the country. But still we are refraining from using the army against them; the only reason is that we think that they too are our own people! We have to abandon every thought of confrontation. It must be understood that everyone living on the land of India is an Indian. There should be no discrimination on the basis of any one’s race, religion, colour, language and costumes. If we succeed in doing so, then surely India will have a golden future.

Before I conclude…

Our military keeps carrying out daring operations, and the news is not disseminated to many people. Last week a severe storm struck Yemen’s Socotra Island and 38 Indians were stranded there. Their life was in danger. Indian Navy ship INS Sunayana reached there and rescued all 38 Indians. With all the rescued aboard Sunayana, it has reached Porbandar. I salute the brave soldiers of the Indian Navy.


The speech delivered at the RSS programme by Dr Pranab Mukherjee, the Chanakya of politics, constitutional expert and an authority on parliamentary traditions, was very relevant. He imparted the lesson of true nationalism to the RSS volunteers. He taught them that diversity and tolerance is the real identity of India. Discrimination and hatred will jeopardise this identity.


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