Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi with then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in 1982 | Getty Images
Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi with then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in 1982 | Getty Images
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In a 2005 Walk The Talk, then RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan praised Indira Gandhi, saying she had a good understanding of the people, their needs, and the country.

New Delhi: That an old Congress warhorse is set to address an event hosted by a staunch ideological adversary of his party, the RSS, has struck many as odd. But the invitation to former President Pranab Mukherjee is not the first time the Sangh has shown respect for a Congress leader.

In conversation with ThePrint Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta on NDTV’s Walk The Talk in 2005, then RSS sarsanghchalak K.S. Sudarshan had praised former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as “India’s greatest politician”.

Arindam Mukherjee | ThePrint.in
Arindam Mukherjee | ThePrint.in

“Shrimati Indira Gandhi had one great quality, of not bending under pressure from anybody. It was certain that, as long she was there, she would not buckle under pressure from either Russia or the US,” Sudarshan had said.

Indira, he added, had a good understanding of the people, their needs, and the country.

“She had just one negative quality, of being self-centred…” he said, “If she had taken decisions with the country’s interest in mind, our country would have got another Chanakya.”

Asked who he thought was the second greatest Indian leader after Indira, Sudarshan named former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, another Congress veteran.

“Despite not being from the Nehru family, he was Prime Minister for a full five years. He was about to leave politics but circumstances changed in a way that he got premiership,” Sudarshan said. He called Rao a “politician in the true sense”.

Despite repeated prodding, Sudarshan refused to name Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the first NDA Prime Minister who had been lauded on either side of the political divide, as a significant leader. On the contrary, he said Vajpayee had not done anything of great significance for the country.

With Mukherjee, the RSS has shared an amicable relationship. As President, Mukherjee had twice invited RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to Rashtrapati Bhavan. Earlier this year, senior RSS leaders were invited to the launch of the Pranab Mukherjee Foundation, an organisation that works for education and an inclusive society.

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  1. Prof PK Sharma,Freelance Journalist, Barnala(Punjab)
    Nothing should be read in between the lines regarding RSS’s invitation to Mr Pranab Kumar Mukherjee for exchange of ideas and his spirited response to the invitation ! The gestures on both sides- host part and reciprocity of the guest ought to be hailed !

    We as a nation must realise that a time has now come to shun hollowness and parochialism. These twin evils indeed are a stumbling block in the growth of ideas, harmony, progress, prosperity and advancement of the grand universe.In the world, we have to excel as Indians not as Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party,CPI,CPI(M) or….,,,,,,, men and women ? I hope PM Modi in future will refrain from repeating his poll ploy ” Congress Mukt Bharat ” because more than a century old Congress is not a party of Pakistan, China or Bangla Desh !
    Politics should not turn Indian leaders into frails taking party animosities to that highest sworn foes like level.

    Varying faiths, ideologies and thoughts pave way for untreaded roads, paths and destinations unfolding wonderful mysteries, unknown tales, rich experience and amazing exposure ! At the same time, these dispel aura of darkness spreading dazzling light of intellect, prudence, generosity,magnanimity, broadmindedness and nobility.

    This laudable development of RSS inviting Mr.Mukherjee and his positive response must hopefully enkindle positivity and optimism
    of the highest order in the bargain. Both RSS and Mr.Mukherjee will be taking roads not taken earlier to explore something rare in order to open up new vistas for the Indian society by interacting with each other.

    This event in my considered opinion is path-breaking one !

    For the media and political outfits of India, it should serve as an eye opener.The media must stop sensationalising every incident and politicians too must cease seeing everything through a narrow and coloured political glass !

    Following with an open mind, three “ds”- debate, dialogue and discussion are the key to any problem of any complex or complicated dimension on this earth.
    Three cheers for the art of parleys, pondering over and freedom of expression in the best interests and welfare of humanity !
    Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist
    Pom Anm Nest,Barnala(Punjab)

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