Mumbai: Union minister and senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari today welcomed former President Pranab Mukherjee’s decision to accept an invitation to attend an RSS event, saying it is a “good start” and “political untouchability” is an outdated concept. Gadkari, the Lok Sabha MP from Nagpur, also said the RSS was not Pakistan’s ISI, but an organisation of nationalists.
Mukherjee has been invited to be the chief guest at the valedictory function of Sangh Shiksha Varg — a training camp for Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh volunteers — at its headquarters in Nagpur. The event is to be held on June 7 and a senior RSS functionary had said yesterday that Mukherjee has accepted the invitation.
“Mukherjee’s acceptance of the invitation is a good start. Political untouchability is not good,” Gadkari told reporters here when asked about reported reservations in the Congress over the former President accepting the RSS invite. “It is the prerogative of the organisers to invite someone and it is the prerogative of those invited to accept it or not,” he added.
Calling political untouchability “outdated”, Gadkari said, “I believe political untouchability in a democracy is not good. We should meet each other, discuss each others’ views. If we don’t agree with the views, we should express it. Citing an example, Gadkari said, “When I became BJP national president, I went to the CPM headquarters to seek the blessings of A B Bardhan, who hails from Nagpur and whom I consider an icon.”
Hitting out at opponents who often refer to the BJP as a “communal” party, Gadkari said that such people themselves were “small hearted”. “Those calling others communal are communal themselves and small hearted people,” Gadkari said. Even though there has been no official reaction from the Congress on Mukherjee’s decision, several party leaders have expressed surprise over the development.