Former President of India Pranab Mukherjee has agreed to address a massive gathering of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) workers at the organization’s headquarters in Nagpur on June 7.

Mukherjee was invited by RSS to address a gathering of 600 Swayamsevaks (volunteers) who are going to be present in Nagpur on that day for the culmination event of Sangh Shiksha Vargh, which is an annual training camp that RSS recruits attend in their third year for being trained at Smruti Mandir premises of the saffron outfit’s Nagpur head office.

There had been apprehensions of Mukherjee declining the invitation, provided his stature as a veteran Congress leader who had always been vocal in his opposition to “communal” organizations like the Sangh. RSS leaders, however, refuted this charge and pointed out that Mukherjee had kept his political ideologies aside when he became the President and he had even met Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat at Rashtrapati Bhavan during his tenure.

Mukherjee’s acceptance of Sangh’s invitation has left Congress stunned, although the party’s senior leadership is yet to make an explicit statement on this. While some Congress leaders expressed shock, other like party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Sinhvi said the former President’s acceptance of the invitation does not indicate his political inclinations.

From the BJP camp, senior leaders like Nitin Gadkari welcomed Mukherjee’s decision. They pointed out that Mukherjee had maintained great relations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his tenure as President despite being a staunch Congress loyalist for almost his entire political career.

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