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  Opinion   Edit  09 Jun 2018  Citizen Mukherjee’s agenda: Buzz grows

Citizen Mukherjee’s agenda: Buzz grows

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Jun 9, 2018, 5:44 am IST
Updated : Jun 9, 2018, 5:44 am IST

The founder of the “motherboard” of Hindutva politics has not before been lauded in such memorable words.

Former President Pranab Mukherjee speaks at RSS event in Nagpur. (Photo: PTI)
 Former President Pranab Mukherjee speaks at RSS event in Nagpur. (Photo: PTI)

It is doubtful if former President Pranab Mukherjee, at any point in his life, had considered that he may some day address the RSS at its Nagpur headquarters even in the capacity of a high invitee. The event went off smoothly on Thursday, and all the political hype, excitement and controversy abated.

But Mr Mukherjee is a high-calibre politician, despite the five years he spent at Rashtrapati Bhavan. So, he may just have some surprise in store for us. The speculation over this is that in the political situation after the next Lok Sabha election, if neither the BJP nor the Congress has a majority in the House (not an unlikely scenario), a kind of non-partisan Prime Minister may suit all concerned, both national parties and regional outfits.

 

In short, Mr Mukherjee, by going to the RSS headquarters, may have pre-positioned himself for a role he may have wanted all his life instead of being sent off to be the country’s First Citizen by his former leader Sonia Gandhi.

He said all the right things in Nagpur to keep the secular camp happy. The former President read out chapter and verse from Gandhi, Nehru and Tagore to keep the faithful buoyed — although it was pretty routine stuff, which he himself has said many times, even while he was President and the minorities were under attack on Narendra Modi’s watch. There were no surprises there. Indeed, he would have weakened his case if he had defected ideologically at Nagpur.

 

The RSS too was kept nicely pampered. In the visitors’ book, the former President spoke of RSS founder K.B. Hedgewar as “a great son of Mother India”. The founder of the “motherboard” of Hindutva politics has not before been lauded in such memorable words.

Perhaps, some day, from another forum, Mr Mukherjee, who is said to read books voraciously and wrestle with complex thought, will let us know why the founder of the outfit which believes in establishing Hindu Rashtra — a very different species from the “constitutional patriotism” Mr Mukherjee espoused in Nagpur — be among India’s greats.

The former President, who apparently fussed over protocol and ensured he spoke last and sat in the middle on stage, showed no concern that only the RSS flag — the symbol of Hindu-ness — was flown at the function and not the tricolour. He also ended his speech with “Vande Mataram”, a common enough greeting during the freedom struggle as it invokes the attitude of “bowing in obeisance” to the concept of “Mother India”, but one that has become somewhat controversial as Muslims do not sing it as they “bow” only before God.

 

Citizen Mukherjee has taken this liberty. President Mukherjee might not have had. Perhaps not even Mr Mukherjee as a top-rung Congress leader in his day. The Mukherjee biopic seems to be still in the making.

Tags: pranab mukherjee, rss