New Delhi, June 13: Congress President Rahul Gandhi hosted the Iftar party on Wednesday evening. As expected, leaders of Congress and other anti-NDA parties turned the event more into a show of strength.
But among all, former President Pranab Mukherjee was the most eminent figures who attended the party. It is because his decision of accepting an invitation of the RSS to address its workers at Nagpur had created disquiet in the ranks of Congress.
Several party leaders, including Mukherjee’s daughter Sharmistha had suggested that the former President attending the RSS event will hand the BJP a potent weapon against the Congress.
However, the party later complimented him for his speech at the RSS headquarters.
The Congress shared a video and photographs from the Iftar on Twitter show Mukherjee sitting next to Rahul, and conversing with him and several other Congress leaders.
Following the event, the Congress president tweeted photographs from the party which came with the lines, “Good food, friendly faces and great conversation make for a memorable Iftar! We were honoured to have two former Presidents, Pranab Da & Smt Pratibha Patil ji join us, along with leaders from different political parties, the media, diplomats and many old and new friends.”
Earlier, reports had suggested that the former President, along with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo Arvind Kejriwal and former Vice President Hamid Ansari had been dropped from the Congress’ list of invitees for the Iftar party.
The Congress, however, refuted the reports saying that Rahul Gandhi has invited Mukherjee, and that the latter has accepted the invitation for the Iftar party.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former President Pratibha Patil and former Vice President Hamid Ansari were among the dignitaries who attended the function at a hotel where leaders from opposition parties, including rebel Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav, Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Janata Dal-Secular leader Danish Ali, Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi and Bahujan Samaj Party’s Satish Chandra Mishra were also present.
Nationalist Congress Party leader DP Tripathi, DMK’s Kanimozhi, Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Manoj Jha, and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s Hemant Soren were the other opposition leaders who were present along with Congress leaders P Chidambaram and AK Antony.
For Rahul Gandhi, this was the first occasion to host an Iftar ever since he took charge as the Congress chief.
Congress’ decision to resume Iftar came days after President Ram Nath Kovind decided to discontinue the feast traditionally held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The event turned out to be a show of power by the anti-BJP parties, with the Grand Old Party positioning itself as the centre of the opposition unity ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The resumption of Iftar also comes at a time when the Congress is seen to be pursuing a policy of soft Hindutva as evidenced in Rahul Gandhi’s several recent temple visits.