Row over ex- Prez Pranab Mukherjee attending RSS event

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Despite criticism and complaints by several of his party leaders including his own daughter  Former President and Congress veteran attended an event organised by Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) on Thursday at Nagpur . 

In his address Mukherjee warned that 'any attempt to define India through religion, dogma or intolerance will only dilute the country's existence.' He also added that, "National identity and Indian nationalism emanated from universalism, assimilation and co-existence. In India, we derive our strength from tolerance, and respect our pluralism. We celebrate our diversity." 

In his speach he highlighted, "I am here to share my understanding on nation, nationalism and patriotism about our country which is 'Bharat', we must free our public discourse from all kinds of fear and violence."

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". 

The former President received lot of criticism over the decision of attending an RSS function. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Thursday 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 earlier 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.

RSS head Mohan Bhagwat also added that Mukherjee will remain what he is and the Sangh will remain the Sangh even after the event. People may have different views but they are all children of mother India and the Sangh always invite different people in its event every year. 

Former Prime Minister Lal Bahadu Shastri's son Sunil Shastri, and also Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's nephew Ardhendu Bose along with his wife and son were also present in the event.
Before attending the event Pranab Mukherjee described Hedgewar as a 'great son of Mother India' as he visited the birthplace of the RSS founding Sarsanghachalak. 

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