Rahul Gandhi’s first iftar as Congress president on Tuesday saw former presidents Pranab Mukherjee and Pratibha Patil, ex-vice president Hamid Ansari, as well as a host of opposition and Congress leaders in attendance. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who is currently abroad, missed the event.
Prime Minister Modi’s fitness video that went viral on social media earlier on Wednesday, was the centre of the conversation. Asking people for the reaction on the video, Gandhi said, “Did you see the PM’s fitness video? It is ridiculous... I mean... It is bizarre... This is bankruptcy.” He then asked CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury to put out his fitness video to match the prime minister’s. TMC leader Dinesh Trivedi, BSP leader Satish Chandra Misra and DMK’s Kanimozhi, Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav and RJD’s Manoj Jha had a hearty laugh over this.
The Congress party hasn’t hosted an iftar, the customary breaking of the day-long fast in the holy month of Ramzan, during the past two years. Sonia Gandhi had hosted its last iftar in 2015. The party’s decision to resume the iftar came days after President Ram Nath Kovind decided to discontinue the feast traditionally held at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The resumption also came amid charges of Congress pursuing soft Hindutva during the recent bypolls when Rahul was seen making rounds of temples. However, Union minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi played the spoiler in Rahul’s iftar moment with the announcement of his own parallel feast.
Naqvi’s iftar on Wednesday was attended by NDA ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad, Prakash Javadekar, Smriti Irani, Jitendra Singh and MJ Akbar as well as 300 Muslim women, including a few who were given triple talaq.
Comparing his feast to one by the Congress, Naqvi said: “We talk about development and dignity. The Congress’ iftar is for political engineering. No one has ever tried to organise an iftar for social engineering. We have done it, especially when we are talking about Muslim women, triple talaq and other issues related to their empowerment.”