NEW DELHI: The Congress iftar hosted by party chief Rahul Gandhi became another opportunity for the Opposition to showcase unity that it wants to retain until the 2019 general elections. Several parties, including the JD-S, CPI-M, BSP, NCP, RJD, TMC, AIUDF, JMM and DMK were represented at the do organised by Rahul, who became Congress chief last December.
The last time leaders from these parties were seen together was during the swearing in of Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on May 23 at the head of a Congress-JD-S alliance formed after Assembly polls to keep the BJP out of power.
Rahul hopes to sew up similar alliances nationally to oust the BJP at the Centre, but challenges remain on the ground.
Former president Pranab Mukherjee, who recently attended an RSS event, was seated next to Rahul, who took centre stage and was seen enjoying friendly chatter with the party veteran. Sitaram Yechury of CPI-M, SC Mishra of BSP, DMK’s Kanimozhi, JMM’s Hemant Soren, and the TMC’s Dinesh Trivedi also shared the table with Rahul.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh was seated at the adjacent table and spoke with NCP’s DP Tripathi, JD-U rebel Sharad Yadav, JD-S leader Danish Ali and the RJD’s Manoj Jha, besides former Delhi chief minister Sheila Diskhit, considered close to the Gandhis.
Political chit chat done, Rahul quickly moved to another table, where party leader Shashi Tharoor had been engaging around a dozen foreign diplomats.
The Congress last hosted an iftar in 2015, when former party chief Sonia Gandhi was at the helm. She did not attend the event on Wednesday but almost all of her close aides, including Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Janardan Dwivedi, Motilal Vora, and Anand Sharma were present.
Sources said they hoped to carry the bonhomie to the monsoon session of Parliament, likely to be held in July.
Meanwhile, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi also hosted an iftar event on Wednesday, which was attended by more than 300 Muslim women, including a few who were given triple talaq.
Naqvi had announced an iftar party a day after the Congress said it would host a fast-breaking meal on Wednesday.