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HindustanTimes Mon,20 Oct 2014

Under NDA-led government, official iftars go out of fashion

Zia Haq, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 27, 2014
First Published: 00:14 IST(27/7/2014) | Last Updated: 00:18 IST(27/7/2014)

In a subtle sign of the changed political climate in Delhi, official iftar events — a familiar sight during the previous government’s term — have been conspicuously missing, as the Muslim holy month of Ramzan comes to an end.

Until the UPA was in power, iftar gatherings – when Muslims traditionally break their fast with a shared meal — were common, with ministers throwing open their large bungalows to politicians, high-profile guests, diplomats and journalists.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had wished Muslims at the start of the holy month of Ramzan on June 29 but had not held an iftar gathering — first time in a decade for a PM.

The Prime Minister’s Office was not available for comments even after repeated attempts.

Even minority affairs minister Najma Heptullah, the only Muslim face in the Modi cabinet, has not held one so far. Her office did not respond to HT on the issue.

There are some notable exceptions: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi will host an iftar on July 27; President Pranab Mukherjee has already hosted one, as have a host of foreign missions, including the American embassy, Pakistan and British High Commissions in Delhi.

The Israel embassy, however, had called off a planned iftar due to the Gaza events.

Food minister Ram Vilas Paswan and ally of the BJP is holding one, albeit in Patna not in Delhi.

“If you don’t host an iftar, it doesn’t mean dishonouring Muslims. But if you do host one, you usually give a message of solidarity and inclusiveness,” says Akhtarul Wasey, Padmashree and professor of Jamia Millia Islamia, who attended the President’s iftar.

A series of events deemed anti-minority through the week have prompted many to wonder if a culture of intolerance is taking root.


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