Hosting the first iftar party after taking over as Congress president, Rahul Gandhi called it a "memorable" experience.
The party, held at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi on Wednesday, 13 June, was attended by a bouquet of Congress and Opposition party leaders, along with former presidents Pranab Mukherjee and Pratibha Patil.
But what created the maximum buzz was Gandhi's comment on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's #FitnessChallenge video, calling it "bizarre", while Pranab Mukherjee observed silence.
- UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi missed the dinner owing to her ongoing treatment abroad. Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati also skipped the dinner
- Congress arranged for an iftar gathering after a dry spell of two years, the last one being hosted by the party in 2015
Gandhi's Iftar Party Organised for Political Gain: Minister Naqvi
Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who is hosting an iftar for the victims of Triple Talaq, accused Rahul Gandhi of organising a party for political gain.
Pranab Mukherjee Will Attend Iftar Event: Surjewala
Former President Pranab Mukherjee will attend the iftar hosted by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, said party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala on Tuesday, 12 June.
Surjewala said Mukherjee was invited by the Congress chief and he readily accepted the invitation.
The former president recently triggered a controversy by accepting to address a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) event at the organisation’s headquarters in Nagpur.
“Multiple media houses have questioned the iftar invite to Pranab Mukherjee on behalf of Congress president. The Congress president has extended an invite to Pranab Mukherjee and he has graciously accepted it. Hope this will set to rest unwarranted speculation,” Surjewala told media persons.
Congress's Iftar After Two Years
The iftar will be keenly watched for the presence of Opposition leaders, especially since the Congress is positioning itself as the centre of Opposition unity ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Sources told PTI that Telangana Chief Minister and TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu and Delhi Chief Minister and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal have not been invited for the event.
Prior to 2016, the Congress used to host iftar in one way or another. When the party was in power, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh used to host the event. Former party chief Sonia Gandhi did so too, until the party decided to skip in 2016 and 2017.
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Pranab Mukherjee and Rahul Gandhi Share Notes
A bouquet of Opposition leaders, including TMC’s Dinesh Trivedi, DMK’s Kanimozhi and others are also present at the party. However, nobody from National Conference is present at the dinner party.
People's Unity Pressurises Political Parties to Unite: Dinesh Trivedi
Speaking to The Quint about unity of opposition, TMC MP Dinesh Trivedi said, “When people are united, then the pressure to unite increases for the Opposition political parties too. So this is the unity of people.”
Good Food, Friendly Faces and Great Conversation Make for a Memorable Iftar: Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi called his iftar party ‘memorable’ in a tweet. In his tweet, he also acknowledged the presence of two former Presidents Pranab Mukherjee and Pratibha Patil, leaders from different political parties, the media, diplomats and "many old & new friends.”