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Published On: Thu, Jun 14th, 2018

Spotlight on Pranab Mukherjee at Rahul Gandhi’s Iftar party

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NEW DELHI : Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s Iftar party on Wednesday evening — his first since taking over the party — turned into a massive show of opposition strength. But the most-watched face there was former President Pranab Mukherjee, whose decision to attend an RSS function had rattled the Congress, his party of five decades
Rahul’s first Iftar party after taking over as Congress president became a stage for the Opposition to show its strength as he was joined by a bouquet of leaders from his own party as well as several regional parties. But the centre of attention at the dinner in Taj Mahal Hotel was former President Pranab Mukherjee, who was in the eye of a storm and the butt of criticism from some Congress leaders for going to the RSS headquarters recently.

This was the first meeting between the two since Mukherjee’s visit to Nagpur on June 7. Photos tweeted by the Congress showed that Mukherjee was seated next to Gandhi and the two were engaged in a deep conversation. But he left after a short while.

There had been rumours that Mukherjee had been dropped from the invite list at the last minute as Gandhi was upset with him for attending the RSS visit, but animosity, if any, was not visible during the dinner.
This was the first meeting between the two since Mukherjee’s visit to Nagpur on June 7. Photos tweeted by the Congress showed that Mukherjee was seated next to Gandhi and the two were engaged in a deep conversation. But Mukherjee left after a short while. The Congress chief offered to drop him back but he politely refused.

There had been speculation that Mr Mukherjee would be dropped from the Congress guest list for attending the RSS function on June 7. Many Congress leaders, including Mr Mukherjee’s daughter Sharmishtha Mukherjee, were apprehensive that his very presence at the function would hand the BJP a potent weapon against the Congress.
the Congress later said Mr Mukherjee, with his address, reminded the BJP and its ideological mentor about “India’s pluralism, tolerance, secularism and inclusiveness” but a section still questioned Mr Mukherjee’s decision.
The Iftar at Delhi’s Taj Palace Hotel , was attended by CPM’s Sitaram Yechury, DMK’s Kanimozhi, RJD’s Manoj Jha and Sharad Yadav. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sent Dinesh Trivedi as her representative, and Mayawati sent SC Mishra. Danish Ali, leader of Karnataka’s Janata Dal Secular, was also present. So were former President Pratibha Patil and former Vice-President Hamid Ansari.
Conspicuous by its absence was the Aam Aadmi Party, with which the Congress is at loggerheads in Delhi. The big opposition get together is the first since Janata Dal Secular chief HD Kumaraswamy’s oath in Bengaluru earlier this month. AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal had attended that meeting.

While top opposition leaders were conspicuous by their absence, middle-rung leaders of many parties were at the Iftar. Among other leaders included JMM’s Hemant Soren, NCP’s DP Tripathy, RJD’s Manoj Jha, AIUDF leader Badruddin Ajmal, RLD’s Mehrajuddin also attended the party.
“Good food, friendly faces and great conversation make for a memorable Iftar! We were honoured to have two former Presidents, Pranab Da and Smt Pratibha Patil ji join us, along with leaders from different political parties, the media, diplomats and many old and new friends,” Gandhi said on Twitter after the Iftar.(With Agency inputs ).

 

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