Our Take

Citizen first

Citizen first
Somebody once said that even the most seasoned Congressman would not understand how wily and classy a politician Pranab Mukherjee was. In one stroke, by addressing the RSS meet in Nagpur, he became what years of being a Congressman could not give him, a brand unto himself, that of a Citizen First who had a vision of India beyond the cheap politicking of rivals and the antics of Congress minions. His speech at the RSS meet, which became the media story of the year, had takeaways for both the BJP and the Congress depending on what they wanted to cherry-pick. RSS ideologues predictably played up his references to our civilisational and cultural discourse, his tribute to Hedgewar, reference to Muslim invaders and the very acceptance  of their invitation for a dialogue as attempted cooption of a veteran Congressman as part of a sampark for samarthan. Congressmen, who had branded him a traitor for even considering a freeze frame moment with RSS brass, hailed him as a hero for sticking by his core beliefs in pluralism, assimilation, multiplicity of faiths, diversity and accommodation as a blowback punch to the ruling regime’s exclusivist One India campaign. And Dada was back being a true blue Congressman by mentioning Gandhi and Nehru. If there was speculation that he was switching over to the other side, hurt by the raw deal he had had at the hands of the first family, Pranabda proved that he was beyond that ambition at this stage in his life. And rather than engage in social media gimmickry and name-calling, he like an old warhorse engaged with his political rivals in a civil and pleasant manner and held up a mirror to them through dialogue and debate. He even acknowledged their worth as representatives of a regime. Now that is something current Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has not even attempted. The former President commanded wall to wall media span and spoke his piece like a Congressman should have instead of drifting around in circles around the leadership vacuum. At the same time, he also demolished some ideas of his hosts and suggested the only corrective governance. Yes he upheld the spirit of democracy and became a true citizen.


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