President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday evening hosted an Iftar reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan which was attended among others by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Union Ministers, including Arun Jaitley.
However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conspicuous by his absence.
The President conveyed Ramzan greetings to all on the occasion and urged everyone “to spread love, affection and mutual trust during this holy month,” an official statement said.
Mukherjee also expressed the hope that the spirit of Ramzan will instill in every Indian a sense of unity and pride in the composite culture of India.
Dignitaries who attended the Iftar also Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal besides Ghulam Nabi Azad, Sitaram Yechuri and Sheila Dixit and heads of diplomatic missions and senior officials and religious public leaders, the official release said.
BJP sources, however, said Prime Minister had a busy schedule as he was to be briefed about internal security situation by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and others. Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not attend President’s Iftar party in 2014 and 2015 either. To mark the end of Ramzan, PM’s office has announced an e-greeting design contest to mark Eid-Ul-Fitr.
It is believed that late HN Bahuguna had begun the Iftar practice back in 1973 when he was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. He found it an opportunity to interact with the Muslim community and also to make it a festival of harmony.