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”.
“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.