Fake photo of Pranab Mukherjee in RSS cap goes viral, daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee has ‘I told you so’ moment

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Former President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday delivered his much-anticipated speech at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur, where among other things, he also hailed Kehsav Baliram Hedgewar, the founder of the thrice-banned Hindutva outfit, as “a great son of Mother India.”

Pranab Mukherjee

Writing in the visitor’s book, Mukherjee said, “Today I came here to pay my respect and homage to a great son of Mother India.” The Hedgewar home was also the venue of the first ever meeting of the RSS which he founded in September 1925.

During his 30-minute speech, Mukherjee invoked the vision of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel, Mukherjee adding that India’s nationhood was not one language, one religion or one enemy. He said, “It’s the perennial one universalism of 1.3 billion people who use more than 122 languages, 1,600 dialects in their every day lives, practice seven major religions, belong to three major ethnic groups… live under one system, one flag and one identity of being ‘Bharatiya’ and have no enemies. That is what makes India a diverse and united nation.”

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) said that Mukherjee visiting the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) headquarters in Nagpur on Thursday lent a “credibility of sorts to RSS and its politics”.

“The RSS keeps inviting prominent persons to its events. They have every right to invite anyone they like. Also, nobody has a right either to question Pranab Mukherjee’s decision to go there. But our concern is that such a visit by a former President of India, who has espoused values of secularism and brotherhood all his life, lends some sort of credibility to RSS and its politics,” its General Secretary Mohammed Salim Engineer was quoted by IANS.

Elsewhere, the Congress made a U-turn and said that Mukherjee reminded the Prime Minister Narendra Modi of his ‘Rajdharma’ and that “Indian nationalism is constitutional patriotism”.

In an official statement, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said that Mukherjee’s visit to RSS headquarters had caused wide ranging discussion, comment, concern and even consternation amongst a large section of Indians, who have an innate belief in foundational values of democracy, pluralism, and diversity.

Meanwhile, a morphed of Mukherjee in RSS cap has gone viral on social media platforms. Sharing the viral photo, Mukherjee’s daughter and a Congress leader, Sharmistha Mukherjee, wrote, “See, this is exactly what I was fearing & warned my father about. Not even few hours have passed, but BJP/RSS dirty tricks dept is at work in full swing!”

Opposing her father’s decision to accept the RSS invite, Sharmistha hadearlier tweeted, “Hope @CitiznMukherjee now realises from todays’ incident, how BJP dirty tricks dept operates. Even RSS wouldn’t believe that u r going 2 endorse its views in ur speech. But the speech will be forgotten, visuals will remain & those will be circulated with fake statements.

“By going 2 Nagpur, u r giving BJP/RSS full handle 2 plant false stories, spread falls rumours as 2day & making it somewhat believable. And this is just d beginning!”

The RSS was banned in 1948 following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. The ban was lifted on July 11, 1949 after then Sarsanghchalak M.S. Golwalkar gave an undertaking that the organisation would abide by the Indian Constitution. The organisation was later banned during the Emergency and immediately after the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992.

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