In the power corridors of Delhi, Iftaar has always been a political rather than a religious event. So when Congress president Sonia Gandhi announced the cancellation of her customary Iftar party this year, it sent ripples down the line.
Ms Gandhi’s Iftaar, held usually at Delhi’s Ashoka Hotel, is one of the big events of the season, along with the one at the Pakistan High Commission. This year, even the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP’s ideological mentor, is reported to be hosting such an event.
Partymen say the cancellation is the result of a combination of factors.
The first is that Rahul Gandhi, the Congress vice-president, is out of the country. With reports of his imminent takeover doing the rounds, the party brass felt his absence from the Iftar celebrations will send confusing signals.
The second and perhaps the most compelling reason is that in the wake of the recent developments over the Goods and Services Tax bill, the party feels isolated politically.
Last year, Ms Gandhi’s table had Trinamool Congress leader Derek O Brien and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. But on GST, both parties have gone with the majority of states, supporting the bill. The Congress is against the bill in its present format and demands certain changes.
The TMC, further, may not feel too favourable towards the Congress, which had tied up with the Left Front in the recently concluded assembly elections in Bengal.
The Congress is also unsure if Samajwadi Party or the Bahujan Samaj Party will be open to invites — especially because the party’s line in Uttar Pradesh is so far unclear. The Grand Old Party isn’t sure if they can handle being rebuffed openly in such a political forum.
So, the Congress decided to play it safe, informing the Minority Cell that this time, Iftaar will only be marked with distribution of sweets for under-privileged children. As one insider told NDTV, “Our finances aren’t doing too great either”.