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Why was Modi missing from the President's Iftar party?

July 22, 2014 00:32 IST

Why was Modi missing from the President's Iftar party?

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Renu Mittal in New Delhi

President Pranab Mukherjee hosted the season’s first big Iftar party at Rashtrapati Bhawan on Monday evening, but conspicuously absent was Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the event was in turn attended by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Minorities Affairs Minister Najma Heptullah with Union Minister and Lok Janashakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan. Renu Mittal reports

According to a source, the prime minister was in Mumbai on a day-long visit and left only late in the evening to return to the capital. The source adds that the prime minister’s engagements in Mumbai were not urgent but he chose to be away from the capital, with political analysts suggesting that he deliberately chose to be away as he did not want to be seen attending an Iftar party.

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Image: President Pranab Mukherjee speaks to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh as former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh looks on


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Why was Modi missing from the President's Iftar party?

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So far, there is no word from the Prime Minister’s Office that Modi would be hosting an Iftar party, as has been the practice with past prime ministers when Iftars hosted by them became a part of the social and religious calendar of the city.

With the exit of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government from power in May this year and the installation of a Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government with Modi at its helm, this is the first Ramzan of the new government and it is becoming increasingly clear that the earlier culture of senior ministers, party chiefs and prime ministers hosting Iftar parties may be a thing of the past.

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Image: President Pranab Mukherjee greets Congress president Sonia Gandhi


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Interestingly, Rashtrapati Bhavan insiders suggest that when the President hosts such an important event, his office checks up the availability of the prime minister, the vice president, and the Congress president before fixing the date and sending out the invites.

It is presumed that the same practice may have been followed this year. And it is the correct protocol for the invitees to turn up when the President calls them for dinner.

From the government, the only notable presence was of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Minorities Affairs Minister Najma Heptullah along with Union Minister and Lok Janashakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan.

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Image: Lok Janashakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan shares a light moment with President Pranab Mukherjee


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During his ‘secular days’ when he was close to Rashtriya Janata Dal president Lalu Prasad Yadav, Paswan was known to host Iftar parties where the who’s who of politics would come, but this year he is a partner of the BJP and so far there is no word on whether he would do so this year.

From the opposition, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, senior Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI leader Mohd Salim, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and many others were present for the President’s Iftar party.


Image: President Pranab Mukherjee addresses the gathering. Also seen in the photograph is Minorities Affairs Minister Najma Heptullah (red saree)


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