The Grand Iftar Party was organised by Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday at Taj Palace Hotel in Delhi. The Iftar party hosted by Congress President Rahul Gandhi was special as it was held by the Congress after a gap of 2 years. The Congress party officially did not organize any iftar feast for the last two years, probably to build Rahul Gandhi’s image of a Janeudhari Brahmin and a devout Hindu. The last Iftar party organised by the Congress was in 2015 under the then Congress President Sonia Gandhi. This party is different though as it is being held a year before the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Congress and Rahul Gandhi wanted to project their affluence within the ranks of the opposition parties and wanted to show their command over the other regional parties by calling them for Iftar in New Delhi. No matter how much the Congress tries to project that the Iftar party was a grand success the results are for all to see. It was a failure of epic proportions to say the least. The guest list which wanted to boast of prominent leaders from all regional parties in India had to remain content with some Congress leaders and only a handful of leaders from other parties.
The biggest story ofcourse was that former President Pranab Mukherjee decided to grace the Iftar party with his presence. Former President Pratibha Patil also attended the event along with ex-vice president Hamid Ansari and former PM Manmohan Singh. Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, P Chidambaram, AK Antony, Ashok Gehlot, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Shashi Tharoor also arrived at the Iftar party. Hopes of Rahul Gandhi were dashed by the absence of other party leader’s non-attendance. CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury, Loktantrik Janata Dal party’s Sharad Yadav, DMK leader Kanimozhi, Trinamool Congress’ Dinesh Trivedi, Bahujan Samaj Party leader Satish Chandra Mishra, Nationalist Congress Party’s DP Tripathi and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader Hemant Soren were present at the party but the absence of their leaders spoke a lot. TMC leader Mamata Banerjee chose not to attend the Iftar party herself and sent Dinesh Trivedi on her behalf. This might be an indication that her dreams of heading the United Third Front opposition are still alive. Notably, Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP) and Mayawati (BSP) too were absent from the Iftar party signaling their indifference to the Iftar party. Sharad Pawar from NCP and Arvind Kejriwal from AAP too were absent from the Iftar celebration held in New Delhi.
The Iftar party could also be termed as the first loss of Rahul Gandhi in the run up to the preparations for Lok Sabha 2019 elections. Rahul Gandhi could have shown he still was in the driving seat by managing to gather all the opposition leaders in his party, but he failed miserably. The causes for regional party leader’s snubbing Rahul Gandhi’s Iftar treat could be numerous but some prominent ones need to be discussed. First and foremost is the prime ministerial seat and forming of a united opposition prior to the 2019 general elections is the primary cause of concern for all. Mamata Banerjee, Mulayam Singh Yadav and a couple of others have been trying to project themselves as the most eligible candidate for the prime ministerial post in the future. Coming to an event hosted by the Congress would have meant leaving their prime ministerial ambitions and surrendering them to the Congress party. Seat sharing for the upcoming elections is another touchy point for the regional party leaders. The Congress despite being in a delicate situation in all the states in India wants to have majority seats in the upcoming elections and no party is ready to surrender their seats to a weak Congress party. A clever leader might have understood that the regional parties are not looking to budge and are not willing to submit to Congress’s will but we will have to wait and see how long it is going to take for Rahul Gandhi to figure it out.