Is Pranab Mukherjee’s acceptance to felicitate RSS valedictorians a sign towards shifting tides of RSS’s support?
In the English language, two words with completely opposite meanings that come together are called an oxymoron. In the world of politics, RSS-Congress is nothing less than an oxymoron. A Congress leader with RSS functionary seems an impossible scenario. However, this impossible scenario may even come to life with RSS’ felicitation around the corner. This felicitation, happens every year but it is a little different this time. The valedictory session of RSS’ third year will be attended by the former president and senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee on the invitation of RSS chief- Mohan Bhagwat.
The idea that senior Congress leader could participate in programmes of Sangh Shiksha Varg-Tritiya Varsh’ or the Third Year Course has caught the attention of many since there have been instances when Congress president Rahul Gandhi has passed jibes at the Sangh and called them propagators of Hindutva ideology in the country. In one of his recent comments on the anti-Sterlite protest deaths, Rahul Gandhi flagrantly blamed RSS-BJP for the 11 deaths. This is not the first time when Rahul Gandhi has resorted to such accusations. While continuing his series of jibes and accusations, Gandhi, mockingly said, “I did not blame RSS for the killing of Mahatma Gandhi.”
It will be very interesting to see how the political sphere reacts to these two evidently different ideologies meeting on the same shore.
When two ideologies meet
Two different kinds of worlds clash when two different ideologies come to a share a single platform. This is what is anticipated by everyone at first glance. If we go to have a look at the ideology shared by RSS and Sangh, we come to a realization that it is pre-dominantly right winged, Hindutva based. But if we look at Congress through the same telescope, we come to a blur in the ideology. The party claims to be centre-left, but it doesn’t vehemently banish leniency towards the right wing. The most apparent example is Pranab Mukherjee, himself. Even when they have their ideological differences, Mohan Bhagwat and Pranab Mukherjee haven’t left their humanity behind.
There are several instances to prove the popular notion otherwise. When his foundation was launched, earlier this year, Pranab Mukherjee invited top Sangh leaders in Delhi. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had also called on Mukherjee throughout the last days of his term as president. Mukherjee had also invited Bhagwat for lunch at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
“Good RSS people in Congress”
The former president, Pranab Mukherjee isn’t the only senior Congress leader who shares a cordial relationship with the Sangh. Jairam Ramesh, in an interview with Reddiff.com, said that RSS took the words of PV Narasimha Rao too seriously when he made a remark on the Babri Masjid situation. “He overestimated his own influence and the clout he had with the RSS.”, said Jairam Ramesh.
Salman Khurshid, in his interview with the National Herald, agreed that there are “good RSS people” in Congress.
The political game isn’t just about right wing or left wing, it is also about having an ideology and then being rationally open to other fronts.
Is RSS turning a new leaf?
In the past, RSS has shown signs that it does not completely agree with the Modi government. Almost contradicting PM Modi’s warcry of Congress mukt Bharat, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat had said that Sangh does not believe in excluding anybody.
At a book launch, Mohan Bhagwat said:
“These [phrases like Congress-mukt Bharat] are political slogans… it is not in the parlance of the RSS. The word ‘mukt’ is used in politics and not part of the Sangh’s lexicon. We never use the language of excluding anyone.”
Just after the election of Modi as the Prime Minister, Mohan Bhagwat reprimanded his cadre saying:
“Hum rajneeti mein nahin hain. Humara kaam ‘Namo Namo’ karna nahin hai. Humme apne lakshya ke liye kaam karna hai (We are not in politics. Our work is not to chant ‘Namo, Namo’. We must work towards our own target).
These are just a few statements amongst the array of instances that hint towards a strained BJP-RSS relationship.
Adversaries aren’t necessarily enemies
Political past of the nation has shown how people who were in opposition in the parliament were in fact friends behind the closed doors of politics. It was pretty evident from the past that Rajiv Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee had shared a good bond outside of the parliament. Even, Indira Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, for that matter sat through discussions outside of the strenuous constraints of the parliamentary proceedings.
This just goes on to prove that your opposition, who is your biggest critique may not necessarily be your enemy.
Having said that, is Pranab Mukherjee’s acceptance to felicitate RSS valedictorians a sign towards shifting tides of RSS’ support?