New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi will host his first iftar party as Congress president and is going to use the occasion to reach out not just to the Muslim community but also bring together opposition leaders across the political spectrum.
Iftar is the evening feast with which Muslims end their daily fast at sunset during the holy month of Ramzan. The Congress party had last held an iftar at the national level in 2015.
A list of invitees was being drawn up in a meeting of top functionaries which took place on Sunday evening, according to senior party leaders. The list, apart from all Congress lawmakers and public personalities, will also include leaders from all like-minded opposition parties.
“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 party leader involved in the planning of the event said, requesting anonymity.
The iftar party is going to be attended by former Congress president Sonia Gandhi as well as all senior leaders of the party. Significantly, the last iftar party, which was hosted by Sonia Gandhi in 2015, was attended by representatives from all leading opposition parties, including the Nationalist Congress Party, Trinamool Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Bahujan Samaj Party.
Interestingly, while the Congress had been considering hosting the iftar party for over two weeks now, according to senior party leaders, the final decision is said to have come soon after President Ram Nath Kovind’s office said that there would be no iftar party at the Rashtrapati Bhawan this year. Since President Kovind took over, there was a decision that no religious celebrations or observances will take place in a public building such as Rashtrapati Bhavan at the expense of taxpayers.
“With the President’s office saying that no iftar would take place officially, there was a thought that as a national party, Congress must come ahead and hold an iftar party. This time, however, there is a change in strategy and instead of the top leadership it is the minority department of the party which is taking a lead in organizing the event," another senior party leader and former Union minister said requesting anonymity.