Nagpur: As images of former President Pranab Mukherjee at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur were beamed live by television channels, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma tweeted what he called the "anguish" of Congress workers.
- Pranab Mukherjee agreed to be 'chief guest' at an RSS function in Nagpur
- Many in the Congress, including his daughter, criticised his decision
- Addressing RSS workers, Mr Mukherjee spoke about "pluralism, tolerance"
"The images of Pranab Da, veteran leader and ideologue at RSS Headquarters have anguished millions of Congress workers and all those who believed in pluralism, diversity and the foundational values of the Indian Republic", tweeted Mr Sharma.
That was before Mr Mukherjee addressed the event organised to mark the graduation of RSS volunteers. In his speech, the former President pitched for secularism and non-violent, saying "the soul of India resides in pluralism and tolerance".
After Pranab Mukherjee's address, Mr Sharma told NDTV that nobody in the Congress had any doubt about Mr Mukherjee's "clarity, courage, conviction and his commitment to the idea of India."
He added a caveat though, saying it was for the RSS to absorb Mr Mukherjee's message.
"The message that he has given is of an India that is inclusive and tolerant, peaceful, multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-cultural. Is the RSS willing to absorb is the question I had raised and that is still in my mind", asked Mr Sharma.
Mr Mukherjee's decision to accept the invite to the RSS event had been questioned by a section of the Congress that had been his party for nearly five decades before he became President in 2012.
The Rajya Sabha member maintained that the Congress had not overreacted, saying no one in the party had voiced any criticism of Mr Mukherjee.
He stressed that many of his party colleagues were still surprised that the national flag did not go up or the national anthem wasn't sung at an event attended by a former President.
"People are possibly overlooking that. So when you say certain images are disturbing, there's nothing wrong", said Mr Sharma.