In a first in India's political history, former president Pranab Mukherjee, dressed in white dhoti-kurta and black sleeveless jacket, and donning a serious look, delivered the valedictory speech at the concluding session of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's (RSS) in Nagpur.
While addressing the 800 RSS workers attending the final year of ‘Sangh Shiksha Varg’ training course, the former president said that democracy was not a gift but a separate task.
Earlier, Mukherjee visited RSS founder Hedgewar’s house where Sangh’s first meeting was held in 1925 and called him a “great son of mother India”.
Mukherjee, who was a Congress ideologue throughout his entire political career of over five decades, also took part in Sangh Prarthana (prayer) - Namaste Sada Vatsale.
Here are the top quotes of Pranab Mukherjee’s speech at RSS headquarter:
# I am here amongst you to share my understanding with you of the concepts of nation, nationalism and patriotism in the context of India.
# We accept and respect our pluralism and celebrate our diversity. Our national identity has emerged after a long drawn process of confluence and assimilation, the multiple cultures and faiths make us special and tolerant.
# Intolerance will only dilute our national identity, hatred leads to dilution of nationalism.
# As Gandhi ji explained Indian nationalism was not exclusive nor aggressive nor destructive.
# Each conquerer and foreign element has been absorbed in India's cultural milieu.
# Indian nationalism emanated from universalism. Any attempt at defining our nationhood in terms of dogma and identities or religion, region, hatred, and intolerance will only lead to dilution of our identity.
# It was this very nationalism that Pandit Nehru so vividly expressed in the book 'Discovery of India. I am convinced that nationalism can only come out of the ideological fusion of Hindu, Muslims, Sikhs and other groups in India
# For us, democracy is not a gift but a separate task.