New Delhi: Former President Pranab Mukherjee's acceptance of the invitation to address a function at the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh headquarters has surprised Congress leaders. Many of them have also asked the veteran Congress leader to reconsider his decision.
- Former President Pranab Mukherjee to address RSS function at Nagpur
- P Chidambaram says no point debating why Mr Mukherjee took the decision
- Mr Chidambaram says RSS must be told what is wrong with their ideology
Former union minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday suggested it might be a little late for this, but had a request for Mr Mukherjee, once his cabinet colleague.
The former finance minister said "there is no point debating why he did so" since the former President had already accepted the invite.
"The more important thing to say is, 'Sir you have accepted the invitation, please go there and tell them what is wrong with their ideology'," Mr Chidambaram said at a discussion on "India at 71 - Hits and Misses" after the launch of book by Congress leader and senior lawyer Abhishek Singhvi "Straight Talk".
Mr Singhvi seemed to agree.
He said it was a "somewhat stupidish approach" to judge the former President over acceptance of the invitation.
"Unless and until you hear what the former president says there, you should not judge him," Mr Singhvi, also the party spokesman, said.
Many Congress leaders have been uncomfortable at the prospect of Mr Mukherjee, who spent decades in the Congress, accepting the RSS' invitation to be the chief guest at the June 7 valedictory function of Sangh Shiksha Varg - a training camp for RSS volunteers - at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur.
These leaders suggest that Mr Mukherjee's visit, besides being perceived as the ultimate approval of its ideology, could be used to blunt the Congress's future attacks on the RSS, the ideological mentor of the ruling BJP.
Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala, who wrote to Mr Mukherjee asking him to decline the invite, said he was "concerned and surprised" by the decision. "RSS is always trying to divide the society," he said. On Tuesday, former union minister CK Jaffer Sharief had also asked him to reconsider his decision.