Prime Minister Narendra Modi may skip an iftaar party hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee tomorrow because he has a busy work schedule. Last year too, the PM had skipped the iftaar party organised at Rashtrapati Bhawan as he was travelling then.
Sources say that the PM’s inability to attend Wednesday’s iftar was because he will be meeting Chief Ministers of North-Eastern states in the evening.
Last year, along with the PM, most cabinet ministers were also not present in the President’s dinner. Home Minister Rajnath Singh had attended the event.
During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, iftaar parties mark the breaking of the day’s fast.
Atal Bihari Vajppayee, during his reign as prime minister. had regularly hosted iftar parties. Manmohan Singh continued with this tradition, which is often perceived to be a symbol of India’s secular ethos. But, Modi did away with this tradition since becoming prime minister in 2014.
Modi, the the past, has drawn flak from opposition parties for refusing to wear the Islamic skull cap. His likely absence from the President Mukherjee’s iftar on Wednesday will once again reignite the debate on prime minister’s approach towards Muslims and their festivities.
Last time, critics even went on to say that the PM’s absence owing to an official visit to Mumbai had undermined the spirit of secularism. This criticism is only likely to gain momentum should he indeed choose to skip tomorrow’s event.
Modi never hosted an iftar party in Gujarat during his time as chief minister of the state for 12 years. His role in Gujarat riots, that killed more than 2000 people, mostly Muslims, has always been criticised. However, he’s not been found been guilty by any court in India.