After he vacated the Rashtrapati Bhavan in July 2017, former president Pranab Mukherjee has hardly made it to news headlines. However, that has not been the case ever since he accepted an invitation from the RSS to be the chief guest at a function at the Sangh headquarters in Nagpur on Thursday.
The new-found bonhomie between the former Congress leader and the RSS did not go down well with the Congress, with a few party leaders openly criticising the move and asking Mukherjee to reconsider his decision. Curiously, top Congress leaders and those close to Nehru-Gandhi family had maintained a staunch silence on the event.
That's when Rajya Sabha MP Ahmed Patel tweeted that he had least expected something like this coming from Mukherjee who was also the finance minister during UPA-2 regime. "I did not expect this from Pranab da," Ahmed Patel, who is known to be close to Sonia Gandhi, tweeted on Wednesday night.
Ahmed Patel's tweet will fuel suspicion that the Congress high command is not impressed with Mukherjee's decision to attend the RSS event. Media reports suggested that Mukherjee's son and Congress MP Abhijit Mukherjee and party leader Anand Sharma had attempted to dissuade the former from attending the RSS event.
On Wednesday, Mukherjee's daughter and Congress leader Sharmishta Mukherjee disapproved of his decision, saying he was giving the BJP and the Sangh a handle to plant false stories as his "speech will be forgotten" but "visuals will remain."
While several Congress leaders urged him to reconsider his decision, many said that his visit would create an "undesirable difference" in the country.
Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram said that since Mukherjee has accepted the invitation, he should go and tell the RSS "what is wrong" in their ideology.
Ramesh Chennithala, a senior Congress leader from Kerala, last week sent a letter to Mukherjee, requesting him to refrain from attending the event.
Chennithala, also leader of the opposition in Kerala Assembly, had said Mukherjee's decision had come as a "rude shock" to the secular minds of the country.
"As a person who has served as the first citizen of our country and the greatest ambassador of secularism, I request you to reconsider your decision to attend the RSS meet on June 7, 2018," said Chennithala in his letter.
West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury and senior Congress leader V. Hanumantha Rao too, had urged Mukherjee not to attend the event.