On August 31, 2018, The Economic Times reported that former President Pranab Mukherjee’s foundation is set to enter into a collaboration with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in Haryana. Titled ‘Pranab Mukherjee’s foundation may collaborate with RSS in Haryana’, the report states, “Swayamsevak Sangh which invited former president Pranab Mukherjee to speak at an event recently seems to be interested in extending the relationship with him. He too seems keen. The former president will share the stage with Haryana CM Manohar Lal on Sunday to launch a series of programmes of his think-tank, the Pranab Mukherjee Foundation.”

The report further stated that “ET has learnt that Mukherjee has invited over 15 senior and junior level RSS workers for the event. This group had met the former president at his residence a few days ago, when he talked to them about his foundation’s efforts to provide clean drinking water in Haryana villages it has adopted. The RSS members assured him of all grassroots help and presented him a coffee table book on the history and struggles of the RSS.”

OpIndia publishes report

On the basis of this report, OpIndia published an article the same day titled ‘Unfazed by Congress’ pettiness, Pranab Mukherjee to collaborate with RSS through his think tank: Reports’. The OpIndia article did not restrict itself to the details of the report but predictably turned to its now familiar rant against the “Congress party and assorted liberals”.

Pranab Mukherjee’s office refutes report

The office of the former President issued a statement on the evening of August 31, categorically denying reports of any collaboration of the foundation with RSS. The statement said, “There have been reports in certain sections of the Media suggesting that the Pranab “Mukherjee Foundation (PMF) may collaborate with RSS in Haryana”. It is categorically clarified that there is neither any existing collaboration, nor is there any such move in the offing.”

It may however be noted that Mukherjee did in fact meet RSS members in Haryana in the first week of August, as reported. This was tweeted by Vasudha Venugopal, journalist and author of the Economic Times article. Moreover, Mukherjee will be sharing stage with Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar to inaugurate Smartgram projects in the state.

While Economic Times hasn’t updated their article with the clarification issued by Pranab Mukherjee’s office, several hours after the clarification, OpIndia updated their article to include the same. While it may be true that Pranab Mukherjee met RSS workers in Haryana earlier this month and will be inaugurating projects along with the Chief Minister, he has unequivocally refuted the reports of his foundation’s tie-up with the RSS in Haryana.

About the Author

Arjun Sidharth is a writer with Alt News. He has previously worked in the television news industry, where he managed news bulletins and breaking news scenarios, apart from scripting numerous prime time television stories. He has also been actively involved with various freelance projects. Sidharth has studied economics, political science, international relations and journalism. He has a keen interest in books, movies, music, sports, politics, foreign policy, history and economics. His hobbies include reading, watching movies and indoor gaming.