The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Friday strongly condemned a morphed picture of former President Pranab Mukherjee wearing a black coloured Sangh cap and giving an RSS-style salute.
The image has gone viral on social media platforms after Pranab Mukherjee attended an RSS event amid criticism by several Congress leaders including his own daughter.
In a statement issued by Sah Sarkaryavah Manmohan Vaidya, the RSS said that they denounce and strongly condemn the lowly act of these divisive political forces who are deliberately trying to defame RSS.
"Some divisive political forces have posted a morphed photo of a former president of Bharat, Dr.Pranab Mukherjee standing in a prayer position with a folded hand during a recitation of Sangha Prarthana at yesterday's RSS function at Nagpur. These forces initially tried to create an opposition to make Dr.Mukherjee refrain from attending this function and now these frustrated forces are indulging in all such dirty tricks to defame RSS," reads the statement.
Apprehensions of @Sharmistha_GK about RSS were 100% correct when she said, speech will be forgotten but visuals will remain and distortions with fake statements will follow. Within minutes of Pranab Da’s return, they were at it. See both, the original and the photoshopped image. pic.twitter.com/qyeaaUxki0
— Shakeel Ahmad (@Ahmad_Shakeel) June 8, 2018
While the Sangh is often described as a Hindu right-wing organisation, it calls itself a nationalist and cultural organisation rather than a political or religious one. It was founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar , on September 27, 1925 on Vijayadashami day at his house here.
Pranab Mukherjee's daughter Sharmistha who had already cautioned him before the speech, on Thursday late night said her fears had been affirmed after a morphed picture showing the former president raising his hand in salutation, like RSS leaders and cadres, appeared on social media.
"See, this is exactly what I was fearing & warned my father about. Not even few hours have passed, but BJP/RSS dirty tricks dept is at work in full swing!" she tweeted.
Sharmistha, who heads the Mahila Congress and the media department of the Delhi Congress, had cautioned her father that his speech would be forgotten but the visuals would remain, giving the BJP/RSS a "full handle" to plant false stories and spread rumours.
Addressing the RSS event, Mukherjee warned that any attempt to define India through "religion, dogma or intolerance" will only dilute the country's existence, as he attended an RSS event amid criticism by several of his party leaders including his own daughter.
Mukherjee said intolerance will only dilute India' national identity and Indian nationalism emanated from universalism, assimilation and co-existence.
"In India, we derive our strength from tolerance, and respect our pluralism. We celebrate our diversity," he said.