We fail to understand what the fuss is about Pranab Mukherjee’s acceptance of an invitation to address the RSS delegates in Nagpur next month. Neither the former President nor the RSS can be under any illusion that the interaction would change their world views. However, should it help do so, it can only be a matter of happiness, given that discourse and discussion is the staple of a democracy, not an unthinking stubbornness to stay imprisoned in one’s own ideological silos and prejudices.
If the RSS is an ogre, as Mukherjee’s old party, the Congress, wants us to believe, the latter has to explore why it has found acceptability with a huge number of Indians. No organisation is without its faults — no, not even the Congress — but to shun it as an untouchable only reveals, a) disdain for the democratic process, and, b) a lack of intellectual confidence required to either persuade or to get persuaded. Even if both parties stick to their respective viewpoints, an interaction will break the ice. Neither RSS nor Congress is dependent on each other’s good-character certificates. Further, all the venom and abuse has not stopped the growth of the RSS. The Congress does not engage the RSS, fearing it will alienate the Muslims. Indeed, it will be good if the RSS next invited key Muslim leaders to clear things up. Meanwhile, not only should Mukherjee address the RSS delegates, he should say his piece without fear or favour. That will be in the true democratic spirit.