As was feared by many in the Congress, the BJP on Friday used former President Pranab Mukherjee's address to the swayamsevaks not only to legitimise RSS ideology but also to describe it in consonance with the values of the right-wing organisation.
The accolades came from none other than veteran BJP leader LK Advani who described Mukherjee's visit to the RSS headquarters in Nagpur and his "illuminating exposition of the noble ideals of Indian nationalism" as a "significant event" in contemporary history.
Lauding Mukherjee for accepting the invitation of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Advani said there was "significant resonance" in the views expressed by both of them.
"Both of them highlighted the essential unity of India, which respects all diversities, including the pluralism of faiths," Advani said in a statement.
The veteran leader praised Bhagwat for intensifying RSS efforts to reach out to various sections of the nation in the spirit of dialogue.
"Such conversations, conducted in the spirit of openness and mutual respect, will surely help in creating a much-needed atmosphere of tolerance, harmony and cooperation to build an India of our common dreams," he said.
Recalling his long association with Mukherjee, Advani praised him for showing grace and goodwill in accepting the RSS invite.
"His (Mukherjee) own reflective nature, combined with his long and varied experience in public life, has made him a statesman who strongly believes in the necessity of dialogue and cooperation among people of various ideological and political backgrounds," Advani said.
Going against the wishes of several Congress leaders, including his daughter Sharmistha, the former President had gone ahead with his visit to the RSS headquarters in Nagpur on Thursday where he shared dais with RSS's top brass, saw the full parade of RSS cadres and at the end of the event delivered his speech.
While Mukherjee's speech was later used by the Congress to attack the RSS, the party failed to justify why did he pay homage to the RSS founder Hedgewar and called him great son of Mother India.
Many Congress leaders were not satisfied with Mukherjee's speech as they wondered why the fiery Congressman diluted the substance of his speech and failed to make any direct or indirect reference to the RSS's chequered past.
"The BJP is going to use Pranab Da's visit and praise for Hedgewar to attack the Congress present leadership that has been highly critical of the RSS and its offshoots," said a senior Congress leader.