RSS and Other Reasons Daughter Sharmistha Has Been Miffed with Pranab


RSS and Other Reasons Daughter Sharmistha Has Been Miffed with Pranab

Illustration: Arati Gujar

Former President Pranab Mukherjee is a man of few controversies. But there has much hue and cry about Mukherjee’s decision address an RSS event in Nagpur today with even his daughter and Congress leader, Sharmistha Mukherjee lashed out at him. Taking to Twitter, she said that the former president was giving BJP and the Sangh a handle to plant false stories as his “speech will be forgotten” but “visuals will remain”. She further added that she hoped he would now realise how the BJP’s “dirty tricks department” works and that with his visit, he was only making it easier for them to spread rumours.

Indulging in our favourite Indian hobby of whataboutery, some Twitter users decided to chide Sharmistha for disrespecting an elder on a public platform. Thankfully, they just stopped short of yelling “Against Indian Culture”.

Sharmistha is not the “daddy’s lil girl” sort of daughter. In fact, she’s had a rather tetchy relationship with her father.

In a heartfelt India Today essay in 2012, she had talked about their strained ties while growing up. “I also learnt not to cross certain boundaries, as a child and as an adult. Whether asking permission for a late-night party or an out-of-turn promotion for a friend’s father (or husband), the answer would be a curt “No”. All the joviality would vanish, his face would turn red, and that was my cue for beating a hasty retreat.” In the same piece, she also gleaned on his endearing traits that included not imposing his views on his children and encouraging them to be voracious readers.

The fact that Sharmistha Mukherjee is fiercely opinionated and independent has been evident for a while. Back when Pranab Mukherjee became the President, she had continued to stay in her three-bedroom GK house instead of moving into Rashtrapati Bhavan. Her mother’s deteriorating health forced her to temporarily take on the responsibilities of the official hostess of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, which she did begrudgingly.

Rumours have been rife that she had even made complaints to several people in the ministry about her father being overworked, when he met with an accident in 2007. It’s safe to assume that she’s sort of a badass.

In fact, last year, she even slammed her own party, the Indian National Congress for disrespecting Pranab Mukherjee, who was the President at the time. Her grouse was with a tweet posted by the official Twitter handle of the Congress party. The tweet carried a picture of late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Pranab Mukherjee, accompanied with the caption — “Shri Rajiv Gandhi and Pranab Mukherjee, in 1985” Coming to his defence and reacting to the hypocrisy, she tweeted, “At least have the courtesy to add “Shri” before Pranab Mukherjee as he happens to be the current President of India.” Soon after her tweet went viral, Congress deleted its tweet. Clearly, she isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade, even if it’s against her own party or even, father.

As it turns out, she isn’t the only one upset with Mukherjee over his RSS commitment. The former president’s visit to Nagpur has caused quite a stir, leading a host of Congress leaders to request him to rethink his decision for the sake of secularism. Breaking his silence on accepting the RSS invitation, Mukherjee on his part claimed that he would speak his mind in Nagpur. “Whatever I have to say, I will say in Nagpur. I have received several letters, requests and phone calls, but I haven’t responded to anyone yet,” Mukherjee said in an interview to Anandabazar Patrika.

The former president arrived in Nagpur today to attend the concluding ceremony of the Tritiya Varsh Training programme. Mukherjee, who has been critical of the organisation in the past, is set to address RSS activists, which will be his first speech from the RSS platform.

Will his speech overshadow Rajinikanth’s Kaala and become the biggest event of today? Whatever it is, daughter Sharmistha won’t be too happy.