Mumbai: Long-time BJP ally Shiv Sena has voiced its suspicions on why Pranab Mukherjee was invited to attend an event of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. If the BJP falls short of numbers in next year's general elections, the RSS, its ideological mentor, may propose the former President as the Prime Ministerial candidate, the party said -- a theory that has been shot down by Mr Mukherjee's daughter.
- RSS may push for Pranab Mukherjee to be PM: Sanjay Raut
- Mr Mukherjee had attended an RSS event last week
- "Soul of India resides in pluralism and tolerance," he had said
"We feel the RSS is preparing itself for a situation where it might put forth Pranab Mukherjee as Prime Minister if the BJP fails to get required numbers," said senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut. The Sena leader added that there was a real possibility that the BJP will fall hugely short of a majority -- the party will "lose a minimum of 110 seats this time".
There has been huge speculation about the invitation and Mr Mukherjee's decision to accept it. Even a section of his lifelong party, the Congress, tried hard to dissuade him from attending. Some leaders, including Mr Mukherjee's daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee, openly said it will play into the BJP's hands by offering them a devastating political weapon.
Today, Ms Mukherjee tweeted again to contradict the Sena.
Mr. Raut, after retiring as President of India, my father is NOT going to enter into active politics again https://t.co/WJmmZx5g1y— Sharmistha Mukherjee (@Sharmistha_GK) June 10, 2018
The BJP has also dismissed the Sena's comments. "Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut's statement seems to be manipulated by Sharad Pawar. As far as 2019 elections are concerned, I am happy to say BJP will from the government with NDA in 2019," said party leader Ram Kadam.
The Sena, which opposes the BJP on most issues despite their alliance at the state and the Centre, first made public their theory in an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamna. The article said the BJP might propose the name of Pranab Mukherjee as the consensus candidate for PM's post the next year if it fails to gain majority.
The former President, it also said, did not touch upon the contentious issues during the tenure of the BJP-led government -- including the crisis in judiciary, inflation and unemployment.
In his speech on Thursday, the former President underscored the need of freeing public discourse from all forms of violence and reminded the government about Rajdharma. "The soul of India resides in pluralism and tolerance," he said.
The Congress said the former President has "shown the 'Mirror of Truth' to the RSS". But senior leader Manish Tiwari said visit will be seen as an attempt to mainstream RSS in secular consciousness. He also chose to question why the 82-year-old former president chose to go to Nagpur and deliver "homilies on nationalism" after having cautioned young Congressmen like him against the Sangh.