A devotee of the teachings of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Vivekananda, he used the occasion to make an important exhortation:
I especially remember my long conversation with him, early last year, at his 10 Rajaji Marg residence in New Delhi. I congratulated him for his effort, as a bridge-builder, to initiate a dialogue between the RSS and its ideological adversaries. I further said, “This dialogue is crucial for national unity and national progress. Now, this mission should be expanded by you and Advaniji working together to start a sustained dialogue between Mohan Bhagwat ji and Congress leaders.” He responded positively to this suggestion. He also listened very attentively to my views on the need for India to take the lead in creating a bright future for South Asia.
This, I said, requires early normalisation of India-Pakistan relations on the basis of an innovative solution to the Kashmir issue, and also comprehensive cooperation between India and China. He said: “This is very close to my heart. I am ready to make my contribution to this cause. Not only India-Pakistan, but we should also strengthen India-Bangladesh friendship.” Alas, Pulwama and Balakot happened soon after, followed by CAA, NRC and the COVID crisis. And COVID hastened Pranab da’s departure from this world.
And a tall Indian has left us.
(The writer, who served as an aide to India’s former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is founder of the ‘Forum for a New South Asia – Powered by India-Pakistan-China Cooperation’. He tweets @SudheenKulkarni and welcomes comment at email@example.com. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)
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