NEW DELHI: None of the Narendra Modi led BJP government representatives turned up for an Iftar party hosted by outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee.
The ruling BJP was hard put to explain the absence of NDA ministers at the Friday evening gathering — the last before Mukherjee demits office next month. The BJP maintained that it “should not be seen as disrespect” to the President.
Former Union Minister Salman Khurshid took to Twitter to attack the government questioning its “sabka sath, sabka vikas” policy.
“BJP leaders skip Iftar meals by President and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. If sab ka Iftar unacceptable what is left of sab ka saath, sab ka vikas? New India?,” Khurshid asked.
Janata Dal-United leader Ali Anwar accused the BJP of ignoring President Mukherjee just because he is about to retire.
“They talk much about the culture and tradition of the country. But instead of following that, they keep on ignoring and do just the opposite. In our culture we even pray to the setting sun. But now they have thought that he is retiring that’s why they are not giving him much importance,” Anwar told IANS, adding that his party wanted another term for Mukherjee.
Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Manoj Jha said, “The absence of all ministers from the Iftar party hosted by the President defines their politics and inclination and is also a downright contempt for the precedents that were set in place many years ago. This also tells us of what more we would we see in terms of RSS’ influence on the government.”
CPI leader D. Raja said the government should clarify on the issue.
However, BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain said that the ministers were “pre-occupied” and thus could not attend the President’s Iftar.
“This should not be seen as disrespect to the President. We respect him a lot. Ministers were pre-occupied and so could not attend it,” Hussain told IANS.
The Indian Express had carried a front-page report on Saturday, quoting CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury as saying that,
“There was not a single minister, not a single government representative and not a single BJP leader. In all these years, I have never been to an Iftar hosted by the President where there has been no representative of the Government of India.”
Yechury could not be reached by IANS for his comments.