Even as former President Pranab Mukherjee will be the tallest figure ever to attend the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) annual event in Nagpur June 7, but it won’t happen for the first time that a person not ascribing to the ideology of the organisation will be the chief guest. The event, Sangh Shiksha Varg, is a 25-day annual training camp for recruits in their third year in the organisation.
Since 2010, the RSS has been inviting independent personalities belonging to different backgrounds, including former bureaucrat, former army chief of a neighbouring country and a veteran journalist.
JP Rajkhowa, former chief secretary of Assam, was the chief guest at the event in 2010. Next year (2011), it was Vijaywada-based industrialist Dr Ganga Raju.
In 2012, it was Ashwini Kumar, the co-owner of Punjab Kesri Group, who now happens to be a Lok Sabha member of the BJP from Haryana.
The following year (2013), head of Adichunchanagiri Mutt, Karnataka, Sri Sri Sri Nirmalanandanatha Mahaswami, graced the occasion.
Next was the turn of Art Of Living Foundation founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. In 2015, Dharmadhikari of Dharmasthala temple D Veerendra Heggade was the chief guest at the event.
The following year, senior Bengali journalist Rantidev Sengupta attended the event as the chief guest. In 2017, former Nepal army chief Gen Rookmangud Katawal graced the occasion.
The valedictory programme is presided over by a well-known personality, which this is Pranab Mukherjee. The chief guest delivers his speech on the concluding day. The programme ends with an address by the Sarsanghchalak.
As per a report in The Indian Express, the RSS has been known to invite people not ascribing to its ideology. One of the earliest examples was former Central Provinces Home Minister Sir Moropant Joshi in the pre-Independence era during Hedgewar’s time. The RSS often refers to a voluntary visit to the Wardha RSS camp by Mahatma Gandhi on 25 December 1934, the report says.