The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat called the presence of former President Pranab Mukherjee at the RSS Sangh Shiksha Varg’s concluding ceremony a “routine” event and hinted that the hype given to his visit was pointless.
In a rare departure from the RSS protocol, the RSS chief began his speech before chief guest Mr. Mukherjee and said: “Since the foundation [of RSS], we have invited prominent people in the country for our Sangh Shiksha Varg. They see the Sangh and put forward their opinions. Today’s programme is in the same tradition with simplicity. But this time, there is a lot of discussion. This is a routine event and the people of Nagpur know that. We are blessed to have such an experienced and knowledgeable person among us today. We invited him and he came. It’s a normal thing.”
“People are asking why he came and why he was invited. But the Sangh is Sangh and Mr. Mukherjee is Mr. Mukherjee. He will remain so,” he told the RSS volunteers.
He claimed that the RSS was for uniting entire society and no one was an “untouchable”.
“Diversity is our ethos. Unity in diversity is our culture. We are all one and it should appear from time to time...,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Mukherjee described Keshav Baliram Hedgewar as a “great son of Mother India’ as he visited the birthplace of the RSS founding Sarsanghachalak. “Today I came here to pay my respect and homage to a great son of Mother India,” Mr. Mukherjee wrote in a visitor’s book at Hedgewar’s birthplace ahead of his much-anticipated speech at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur.
While the Sangh is often described as a Hindu right-wing organisation, it calls itself a nationalist and cultural organisation rather than a political or religious one. It was founded by Hedgewar , on September 27, 1925 on Vijayadashami day at his house in Nagpur. The name ‘Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’ was selected for the organisation on April 17, 1926 from a list of four names — Jaripatka Mandal, Bharat Uddharak Mandal, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Mr. Mukherjee had to walk through narrow lanes to reach the house where Hedgewar was born and also removed his shoes before entering the place. Mr. Mukherjee, who reached Nagpur on June 6 evening, has been invited by the RSS to address its Shiksha Varg and attend a parade by the Sangh workers on completion of the training camp. It is an annual training camp, meant for swayamsevaks in their third year in the organisation. The RSS holds training camps for first, second and third-year swayamsevaks.
(With inputs from PTI)