“Our national identity has emerged through a long- drawn process of confluence, assimilation, and co-existence. We derive our strength from tolerance. We accept and respect our pluralism. We celebrate our diversity. These have been a part of our collective consciousness for centuries,”
According to him, the Constitution was “not merely a legal document but a Magna Carta of socio-economic transformation.”
“It represents the hopes and aspirations of billion plus Indians. From our Constitution flows our nationalism. The construct of Indian nationalism is constitutional patriotism, which consists of an appreciation of our inherited and shared diversity. The soul of India resides in pluralism and tolerance,” Mukherjee said.
Before the former president spoke, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said the debate over Mukherjee’s decision to attend the RSS event was “meaningless” and no one is an outsider for his organisation.
While the Sangh is often described as a Hindu right-wing organisation, it calls itself a nationalist and cultural organisation rather than a political or religious one. It was founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, on 27 September 1925 on Vijayadashami day at his house here.
Mukherjee’s decision to attent the RSS event has already triggered a major political slugfest with several Congress leaders criticising his decision.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel today expressed his disapproval at former president Pranab Mukherjee visiting the RSS headquarters in Nagpur and said he did not expect this from him.
Mukherjee’s daughter and Congress leader Sharmistha had yesterday said her father was giving the BJP and the Sangh a handle to plant false stories with his decision to speak at the RSS event.
Speaking ahead of Mukherjee’s speech, Bhagwat said Mukherjee will remain what he is and the Sangh will remain the Sangh even after the event. Bhagwat said his organisation wants to unify the entire society and no one was an outsider for it.
People may have different views but they are all children of mother India, he said. Bhagwat said the Sangh has invited prominent people to its event every year.
Earlier in the day, Mukherjee described Hedgewar as a “great son of Mother India’ as he visited the birthplace of the RSS founding Sarsanghachalak.
“Today I came here to pay my respect and homage to a great son of Mother India,” Mukherjee wrote in a visitor’s book at Hedgewar’s birthplace ahead of his much-anticipated speech at the RSS headquarters here.