Iftar at Rashtrapati Bhavan; Central ministers skip
New Delhi, June 24: Ahead of Ramzan, President Pranab Mukherjee hosted an Iftar party at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, on Friday. The party was attended by several political leaders and special invitees but what stood out evidently was the absence of Central ministers. Despite receiving invites to attend the iftar dinner, none in the BJP-led government at the center attended the dinner hosted by the President. This is the last iftar party being hosted by the President as his term ends in July.
"There was not a single minister, not a single government representative and not a single BJP leader. In all these years, I have never been to an Iftar hosted by the President where there has been no representative of the Government of India," CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.
SP Rajya Sabha MP Javed Ali Khan, among those invited, said: "I could not spot a single minister at the Iftar hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee. In the past, I have attended three Iftars at Rashtrapati Bhavan and I remember seeing ministers like Rajnath Singh, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Mahesh Sharma and Vijay Goel. This time, no one was there."
Rashtrapati Bhavan had made seating arrangements with ministers in mind - Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar was to share a table with Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad. Rashtrapati Bhavan invites all members of the Union Council of Ministers to the Iftar.
Asked about the no-show, Naqvi told The Indian Express: "I was about to go but exactly at that time, a CCPA meeting was convened. It was an urgent meeting that could not be missed. The Prime Minister, as you know, is travelling tomorrow. The meeting started at 6.30 pm and continued till 7.30-8 pm. Did nobody turn up? All ministers are usually invited."
Notably, PM Modi left for a three-nation tour today. The trip includes a two-day visit to the United States where Modi will meet with President Donald Trump.