Nagpur, June 7: Former president Pranab Mukherjee, while addressing the concluding ceremony of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) 'Tritiya Varsh Varg' training programme in Nagpur, gave a strong message on Nationalism to all the RSS workers. The Ex-President said any attempt at defining the nationhood in terms of dogma and identities or religion, region, hatred and intolerance will only lead to dilution of our identity.
In his address, he quoted Mahatma Gandhi saying that Indian nationalism was not exclusive nor aggressive nor destructive. "Our national identity has emerged after a long drawn process of confluence and assimilation, the multiple cultures and faiths make us special and tolerant", Mukherjee said.
He further said that democracy is not a gift to us but a sacred task and our Constitution is a Magna Carta of socio-economic transformation of India. "It represents the aspiration of millions of Indian. And from our Constitution, flows our Nationalism", he added.
Mukherjee emphasised that India must move from violence and conflict to peace and happiness. He says despite India being one of the fastest growing economies, it ranks low in the happiness index. While ending his address, Pranab Mukherjee said that the aim of the state should be to galvanise people to fight against poverty and disease.
Mukherjee was welcomed by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat at the headquarters of the right-wing organisation in Nagpur on Thursday evening. During his address, Mukherjee said he wishes to share his understanding of the concepts of nation, nationalism and patriotism in the context of India.
Ahead of his much-anticipated speech at the Sangh headquarters, Mukherjee visited RSS founder KB Hedgewar's birthplace in Nagpur along with RSS Chief. 'Today I came here to pay my respect and homage to a great son of Mother India', Mukherjee wrote in a message in the visitor's book.
The function today was held at Reshimbagh in Nagpur. The Congress leaders urged him not to attend the event in the "interest of secularism". Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said that since Mukherjee has accepted the invitation, he should go and tell the RSS "what is wrong" in their ideology.
In 2017, Mukherjee had spoken at an event organised by an RSS body and IGNOU. Mukherjee, who was the then President had said that tolerance for pluralism, compassion for all and love for the motherland are core civilisational values of India where hundreds of languages and all major religions live under one system.
A political slugfest had erupted after Mukherjee accepted an invite from the RSS to be the chief guest at its event. Ahead of the event, the Congress said images of former president Pranab Mukherjee at the RSS headquarters had anguished millions of party workers and those who believe in pluralism and diversity of the Indian republic. Congress senior spokesperson Anand Sharma took to Twitter to express his anguish after images of Mukherjee attending a function at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur appeared on television.