Mumbai, June 8: A day after the powerful address by former President Pranab Mukherjee at a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sagh (RSS) event in Nagpur on Thursday, reports have come in indicating that the united Opposition is considering making him their face for 2019 Lok Sabha elections. A report on CNN News18 quoting sources said that the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are okay with the idea of making Pranab the face of a united Opposition.
However, the report says that the Congress still appears to be jittery to the idea. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said that the Congress doesn't trust Pranab. Meanwhile, there is no official word on the development yet.
On Thursday, Pranab Mukherjee endorsed the idea of a pluralistic society while addressing the RSS's Tritiya Varsh event in Nagpur and said that hate would destroy India's identity. Pranab, during his speech, said that it was disappointing to see India rank low in the happiness ranking. Read the full text of Pranab Mukherjee's RSS address here.
The former president also quoted India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru saying, "It was this Nationalism that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru so vividly expressed in the ‘Discovery of India’, and I quote - 'I am convinced that Nationalism can only come out of the ideological fusion of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and other groups in India. That does not mean that extinction of any real culture of any group, but it does mean a common national outlook, to which other matters are subordinated'."
The Congress, which was reportedly upset with Pranab attending the RSS event, was quick to react and laud the former president's speech. "Dr.Mukherjee's visit to the RSS headquarters (in Nagpur) had led to a wide range of discussions and concerns. Today, Pranab Mukherjee has shown the mirror to RSS. He talked of plurality, tolerance, and multiculturalism. He has reminded the RSS of the history of India. He taught the RSS that India's beauty lies in its tolerance for different ideas, religions and languages," Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told the media.
Bombarding a series of questions to the RSS in regards to its Hindutva ideology, Surjewala asked, "Is RSS ready to admit its mistakes and ready to adapt India's pluralism, secularism and diversity? Will RSS give up its prejudice towards women and marginalised? Will it give up its inherent character of subjugation and violence?"
It will be interesting to see if the whole Opposition agrees to making Pranab the face for 2019. If that happens, the road to 2019 will become even more fierce and interesting.