By organising the social event political parties are trying to appease Muslim voters.
Political parties are using Iftar party as an occasion to forge new alliance ahead of assembly elections in five states. Congress party has already organised Iftar party to invite like-minded parties and discuss strategies before the commencement of the monsoon session of parliament beginning on July 21. The party aims to gather the support of opposition parties to corner the Modi government which already has been battling issues like Vyapam scam, Lalit Modi row. Thus the Modi government is likely to face the tough challenge after coming to power in May last year.
Congress has already sent invitations to Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), Mayawati (BSP), Sharad Pawar (NCP), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), H D Deve Gowda (JD-S), E Ahamed (IUML), Kanimozhi (DMK), D Raja (CPI), Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference and Sudip Bandhopadhyay (TMC). RJP chief Lalu Prasad Yadav won’t be attending Sonia Gandhi’s Iftar party as he had already scheduled a march to Raj Bhavan in Patna on the same day. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and JD(U) president Sharad Yadav are among the invitees. All secular, non-National Democratic Alliance parties have been invited for the dinner on Monday night.
The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (AIMIM), which was part of the Congress-led UPA until two years back, and AIUDF, which has a tie-up with the Congress in Assam, are also invited. The regional parties which are not part of the BJP-led NDA, but have still been kept away, include the AIADMK, BJD and TRS, which rule Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Telangana respectively.
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will also skip the Iftar party but send her representatives. Sources said Mamata had accepted Sonia’s invitation but communicated that she has work in Kolkata.
Another opposition leader who will not be attending Sonia’s Iftar party is Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal but will send his representatives.
Congress is utilising the opportunity to send a message of larger opposition unity at a time when BJP and the Modi government are on the backfoot following a series of controversies after revelations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje extending help to “fugitive” former IPL boss Lalit Modi.
With the Modi government and BJP rejecting demands for resignation of Swaraj, Raje and MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, fireworks are expected during the session which will conclude on August 13.
On the other hand, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday evening hosted an Iftar party which was attended by Pakistan’s envoy to India, two parliamentarians from the Trinamool Congress and a large number of Muslims.
Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit was among the early arrivals at the party hosted at the Palika Services Officers Institute at Nehru Park in Chanakyapuri area
Rajya Sabha member Derek O’Brien was one of the two Trinamool leaders who attended the Iftar on behalf of party chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and a large number of Aam Aadmi Party leaders were present at the event.
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar invited JD(U) and RJD members to his residence for Iftar party, while Uttar Pradesh government celebrated the evening at Raj Bhawan in Lucknow.
On the other hand, BJP corporator Geeta Jain had announced that she will organise the Iftar party through her own pocket. She changed her stance after Shiv Sena, Congress had raised objections against her decision to use corporation’s fund for organising the religious event.