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Rahul Gandhi's iftar party: Top opposition leaders to be in attendance

Press Trust of India/New Delhi 12 Jun 18 | 11:24 PM

Former presidents Pranab Mukherjee and Pratibha Patil, ex-vice president Hamid Ansari and several opposition leaders are likely to attend an Iftar being hosted by Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday.

Gandhi has invited a host of opposition and senior party leaders to the Iftar, the first ever to be hosted by him as Congress chief.

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Senior Congress and opposition party leaders are likely to attend the Iftar at a local luxury hotel here, according to sources.

Sources said leaders of all like-minded non-BJP parties, which have been holding parleys on key issues, have been invited for the event.

For Rahul Gandhi this will be the first occasion to host an Iftar after he took charge of the Congress.

The party did not hold Iftar, which marks the customary breaking of the day-long fast in the holy month of Ramzan, during the past two years and its last Iftar was in 2015.

The then Congress president Sonia Gandhi had hosted the feast at that time.

The party conventionally invites leaders of all faiths to the event as also top diplomats.

This year's Iftar will be keenly watched for the presence of opposition leaders at a time when the Congress is positioning itself as the centre of opposition unity ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The party's decision to resume Iftar comes days after President Ram Nath Kovind decided to discontinue the feast traditionally held at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Sources said Telangana Chief Minister and TRS chief K Chandrashekhar Rao, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu and Delhi Chief Minister and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal have not been invited for the event.

Prior to 2016, the Congress used to host Iftar in one way or the other. When the party was in power, the then prime minister Manmohan Singh used to organise the event.

Former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi used to host Iftar until the party decided to skip the event in 2016 and 2017.

The resumption of Iftar comes at a time when the Congress is seen to be pursuing a policy of soft Hindutva as evident in Rahul Gandhi's several recent temple visits.

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