The Congress on Thursday asked the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party if they would change their 'character, orientation, thought process' after accepting the sagacious advice of former president Pranab Mukherjee who, in his address to an RSS gathering, showed the mirror of truth to them.
Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said that Mukherjee, in his speech at RSS headquarter in Nagpur, reminded them of India's pluralism, tolerance, secularism and inclusiveness.
Mukherjee particularly highlighted the imperative to free public discourse from all forms of violence, besides putting compassion, harmony and non-violence as the centre stage of public life, Surjewala said.
Surjewala said Mukherjee, a Congress veteran, reminded the Modi government of following 'raj dharma' founded upon diversity, non-violence, multi-culturalism and assimilation of ideas.
He also reminded the prime minister that happiness of people is the happiness of the ruler and their welfare is his welfare, indicating thereby the 'unchecked exercise of authority and attack on institutions' in the garb of self-professed definition of pseudo-nationalism.
"Let the RSS and the BJP publicly commit today to change its character, orientation, thought process and path and accept the sagacious advice of their guest Pranab Mukherjee. It is time for (RSS chief) Mohan Bhagwat and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to answer. We await a reply," Surjewala said.
Surjewala said the former president has shown the mirror of truth of India's pluralism to the RSS and has reminded the RSS that India's beauty lies in its tolerance for difference ideas, religions and languages.
"Is RSS ready to admit its mistakes and ready to adapt India's pluralism, secularism and diversity? Will RSS give up its prejudice towards women and marginalised? Will it give up its inherent character of subjugation and violence?" he asked.
"Ex President's visit to RSS headquarters has caused widespread concern and debate amongst those who believe in India's foundational values.
"Pranab Mukherjee has shown 'Mirror of Truth' to RSS, to follow India's civilisational values. Will RSS and the prime minister change path and accept his sagacious advice?" he asked.
However, earlier in the day, the Congress had said images of Mukherjee at the RSS headquarters had anguished millions of party workers and those who believe in pluralism and diversity of the Indian republic.
Congress senior spokesperson Anand Sharma took to Twitter to express his anguish after images of Mukherjee attending the function at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur appeared on television.
'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 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 his core agenda as it seeks legitimacy,' he added.
The tweet came in response to the RSS stating, following the controversy over Mukherjee's visit, that dialogue was important, central to RSS ideology and an old tradition of the country.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel also expressed his disapproval at the former president visiting the RSS headquarters.
Patel, who is United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi's close confidant and has been her political secretary, voiced his view on Twitter, in reply to Mukherjee's daughter who spoke out against the decision of the former president to address an RSS event.
'I did not expect this from Pranab Da!' Patel said in his one line tweet
The Congress also put out a video on its Twitter handle and an article on its website to project its view on the RSS.
The video, 'RSS for Dummies: A guide for the average girl and guy", was accompanied by a post saying, "Today is a very fitting day to bring you all a primer on what the RSS really stands for.'
'The video was put out in the form of a guide for the young boys and girls on what the RSS stood for and alleged that it did not participate in the freedom struggle while the Congress did,' the tweet said.
It alleged that RSS founder K B Hegdewar ordered the Sangh not to participate in the satyagraha and Sangh leaders encouraged members to join the British Civic Guard.
'RSS' non-participation in India's Independence was complimented by their British masters. The Sangh opposed our national flag. Anti national Much?' it said.
The video also carried images alleging that Nathuram Godse shot and killed Gandhi and that the Manusmriti is bigger than the Constitution of India.
The theme was continued on the Congress' website with an article titled, "Never forget what the RSS stands for". It carried an image with an RSS volunteer spewing fire from his mouth.
'...To start with, the RSS was never part of the freedom struggle against the British. At a time, when revolutionaries young and old were agitating against the British, the RSS leaders of yore took utmost care to ensure that nothing that they did would tick off the Brits,' the article said.
'RSS stalwarts are known for their endorsement of fascist tendencies. In We or Our Nationhood Defined (1939), Golwalkar expressed admiration for the Nazis for their policy on Jews and said that this was a model that India could profit from,' it said.