New Delhi, June 11: If reports are to be believed Congress president Rahul Gandhi is all set to host an iftar party in the national capital soon. However, the exact date of the event is not yet known. Iftar or fatoor is the customary evening meal with which Muslim devotees around the world break their fast daily during the holy month of Ramzan.
The news regarding Rahul hosting an iftar party has come at a time when the office of President Ram Nath Kovind announced recently that there won't be any iftar party at the Rashtrapati Bhawan this year.
According to the President's press secretary, Ashok Malik, Kovind had "decided there would be no religious celebrations or observances in a public building such as Rashtrapati Bhavan on the taxpayer expense".
"This is in keeping with the principles of a secular state and applies to all religious occasions, irrespective of religion," he had said. The decision of the President has got mixed reactions.
According to a report published by Mint, the Congress has decided to host the iftar party to woo Muslim and opposition leaders ahead of the big 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The Congress hosted its last iftar party in 2015 during the presidentship of Sonia Gandhi. This will be Rahul's first iftar party as the Congress president. In December last year, Rahul became the party chief.
The tradition of hosting iftar party by the Congress dates back to the days of first Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Since then other political parties too have started doing the same to woo Muslim leaders. Critics of political iftar parties say that it is another way of minority appeasement. However, politicians hosting various religious functions are a norm in the country, these days.
"A final list of invitees is being drawn up and like earlier occasions in the recent past, this one too will see senior opposition leaders coming together on a Congress invite. Leaders from all the key allies and friendly parties are being invited for the event," a senior Congress leader told Mint.
In May, top leaders of various opposition parties came together to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy. The opposition parties also got a big morale boost after they won the by-polls in various states recently.
The talk of unity among various like-minded opposition parties against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is gaining momentum ahead of the Lok Sabha polls scheduled in April/May next year. The BJP has called the 'blossoming friendship' among the opposition parties as "opportunistic".