Pranab Mukherjee- Plan B Of The RSS?
The why, how and what nows of the Pranab-RSS Affair.
The UPA government must investigate links between terrorists and the RSS and its sister organisations that have been uncovered in some recent cases. The role of religious fundamentalist organisations in challenging the security of the nation can no longer be ignored. – This was a part of a resolution moved by Pranab Mukherjee in the 83rd Congress Plenary in December 2010.
Fast forward to 2019. Mohan Bhagwat had a grand coming out ball for the RSS and the Chief Guest? Former President of India and erstwhile Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee.
He didn’t stop there. Mukherjee paid tribute to RSS founder KB Hegdewar and called him “a great son of India”. For the uninitiated, this great son called Indian Muslims ‘foreign snakes’ and wanted a Hindu Rashtra, not the one envisaged in the Constitution of India.
What caused Pranab to perform this somersault? Instead of questioning him, embedded Panna Pramukhs in the media are content with the fact that Pranab ‘trolled’ the RSS. Is it enough for the former first citizen to ‘troll’ an organisation he himself accused of being associated with terrorists? Has all nuance and debate in the media now been reduced to a terror of what the paid right wing trolls will pounce on? Are journalists now mere stenographers content to reproduce what is told to them sans any questioning? Is this some sort of Stockholm syndrome which has gripped the free press – terrified to ask questions and desperately self-censoring?
And, let no confusion prevail it was an unequivocal endorsement by the former Rashtrapati. The optics promptly photoshopped within 24 hours and spread around the country by the Sangh’s viral WhatsApp on overdrive was something that Mukherjee’s daughter Sharmistha had been presciently warned him about in public.
I want Mukherjee to tell us why he chose to endorse the pernicious ideology of Hindutva conjured by V D Savarkar which says that only those who regard India as both their fatherland and holy land could be first class Indian citizens. The explicit othering of Muslims and Christians citizens who Savarkar wants reduced to being second-class citizens is apparent. Even recently as 2011 now BJP MP, Subramnium Swamy wrote a piece for the DNA newspaper where he wanted to rename India, Hindustan and declare it a “Hindu Rashtra” wherein non-Hindus only have the right to vote if they “proudly acknowledge that their ancestors were Hindus” and if they “feel for the Hindus”.
Our Constitution clearly states that India affords its citizens liberty of faith, belief and worship and equality of status and opportunity. Swamy, a serial litigator against the Gandhi family was, post this missive, made an MP by the BJP after nudges from the RSS.
Does Mukherjee who gave a turgid speech on Constitutional values in Nagpur not flinch from this avowed distaste of our Constitution? Mukherjee as Sitaram Yechury pointed out provided a history capsule to the RSS in their headquarters but forgot to mention the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Yechury tweeted that it spoke volumes. Did Mukherjee also not notice the absence of our national flag and anthem in the function to which he gave legitimacy and where he sat and witnessed an interminable shambolic parade telecast live on all national channels?
How was this arranged?
Authoritative sources say that the RSS outreach was choreographed by a close and ambitious aide who has been by his side for most of his life. The aide has relatives in the BJP and while serving alongside Mukherjee in Rashtrapati Bhavan arranged for RSS Chief Bhagwat to call on him. The aide’s husband, a former police official continues to be a governor of a salubrious state and is the only occupant of a Congress nominee to the gubernatorial office not removed by the Modi led BJP government.
Mukherjee with his resurgence of political ambition which made him go to Nagpur has certainly blotted his copybook in terms of his legacy as President. As an anguished Ahmed Patel tweeted: “Did not expect this of Pranabda.” The party was put in a bind by its former leading light. Mukherjee finally won an election with the help of Mamata Banerjee 40 years after he came into public life and yet was given every top post by the Congress party bar the post of Prime Minister. Says a senior Congress leader “Thank god Sonia Gandhi preferred Dr Singh. She like Rajiv Gandhi distrusts Pranab and now with reason. We should always be scared of the ambition of diminutive men” in a reference to Mukherjee’s short stature. The Congress party is pained seeing it as a great ideological betrayal as Mukherjee seems to have gone rogue.
The RSS, not content with appropriating dead icons of the Congress has now appropriated a living icon also. While Modi-Shah don’t see anything beyond themselves, the RSS does.
It is aware of the diminishing returns of Modi’s popularity and Pranab becoming the lynchpin of a successful united opposition is their Plan-B. Not surprising in the least. You would be surprised to find how much they privately agree on.
Swati Chaturvedi is a Delhi based journalist.