Hours after expressing its anguish over Pranab Mukherjee’s bid to attend an RSS function at the organisation’s headquarters in Nagpur, the Congress party made a U-turn on Thursday night following Mukherjee’s speech there and hailed him for having “shown the mirror of truth to the RSS at its headquarters by reminding them of India’s pluralism, tolerance, secularism and inclusiveness as an article of faith and soul of the country”.

The Congress had earlier in the day expressed anguish over its ex-stalwart and former President of India Mukherjee’s participation in the RSS function, highlighting that his move distressed millions of the Congress workers and other citizens.

Close on the heels of Mukherjee’s address to the RSS meet however, the Congress’s communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala held a press conference at its headquarters in the national Capital, showering praises on the former. “He (Mukherjee) particularly highlighted the imperative need of freeing the public discourse from all forms of violence, physical and verbal, besides putting compassion, harmony and nonviolence as the centrestage of our public life,” Surjewala said.

“Mr Mukherjee also reminded the present Narendra Modi government of following ‘Rajdharma’ founded upon our diversity, non-violence, multi-culturalism and assimilation of ideas….Indicating the unchecked exercise of authority and attack on institutions in the garb of pseudo-nationalism, he reminded the RSS as also PM Modi that ‘Indian nationalism is Constitutional patriotism’,” Surjewala said.

The Congress, however, asked the ruling BJP and its ideological mentor RSS whether they were ready to change their “character, orientation, thought process and path” and “accept the sagacious advice of their guest Mr Pranab Mukherjee”.

Earlier in the day, the Congress senior spokesman Anand Sharma had tweeted, “The images of Pranab Da, veteran leader and ideologue, at RSS headquarters have anguished millions of Congress workers and all those who believed in pluralism, diversity and the foundational values of the Indian Republic”. Sharma also said, “Dialogue can only be with those who are willing to listen, absorb and change. There is nothing to suggest that RSS has moved away from its core agenda’’.