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Will secular Pranab be too hot to handle for RSS

Nagpur, June 6: As the country wonders what former President Pranab Mukherjee might say at Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) headquarters here on Thursday, his last speech as President in 2017 reflects the thoughts and concerns that had engaged him throughout his over five-decade-long political career. Unlike his 2012 speech when he took over as President in which he made a passing reference, pluralism and tolerance dominated the 2017 address.

“I want to share with you some truths that I have internalized in this period. The soul of India resides in pluralism and tolerance. India is not just a geographical entity. It carries a history of ideas, philosophy, intellect, industrial genius, craft, innovation and experience. Plurality of our society has come about through assimilation of ideas over centuries. “The multiplicity in culture, faith and language is what makes India special. We derive our strength from tolerance. It has been part of our collective consciousness for centuries. There are divergent strands in public discourse. We may argue, we may agree or we may not agree.

Mukherjee, who has been critical of the RSS, is set to address its activists in Nagpur on Thursday. This will be his first speech from the RSS platform. Accepting an invitation from the Hindutva group has sparked controversy with some of his former Congress colleagues and Left leaders expressing their reservations over his participation in the RSS meeting. In his last speech as the President, Mukherjee had expressd his concern about increasing violence and how darkness, fear and mistrust was at the heart of this violence. Power of non-violence has to be resurrected to build a caring society to ensure participation of all sections of the people, he said. (IANS)

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Ankur Kalita