Breaking tradition, the Indian ruling party's ministers failed to show up at the annual iftar event hosted by their president this Friday, and a similar incident took place in Kashmir earlier this month.
No minister of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) showed up for President Pranab Mukherjee’s Iftar at Rashtrapati Bhavan — the last one he has hosted there before the end of his term next month, Indian media outlets reported.
Communist Party of India General Secretary Sitaram Yechury told The Indian Express there were no government representatives or BJP leaders at the iftar.
US President Donald Trump stopped the two-decades old White House tradition of hosting an iftar during Ramadan this year. This iftar had been hosted by three consecutive administrations, including George W Bush who made a point of holding the iftar soon after the 9/11 attacks to emphasise on inclusiveness.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi stopped the Indian central government's tradition of hosting an iftar party during Ramadan after he took power in 2014. President Pranab Mukherjee continued to host the presidential iftar, but Modi has avoided those so far.
BJP has now become openly critical of state-hosted iftars. On Sunday, central Minister Giriraj Singh told the press that holding iftar parties was “drama” and those hosting them should answer whether they will host such a function for Hindus.
However, in the last three years, BJP leaders have usually shown up for the president's iftar.
The Indian Express said quoting Rajya Sabha MP Javed Ali Khan that ministers Rajnath Singh, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Mahesh Sharma and Vijay Goel had previously attended the iftar.
Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who had attended the event last year, told The Indian Express that he was about to go but exactly at that time, a Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs meeting was convened.
Earlier this month, BJP ministers in the state of Jammu and Kashmir avoided Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's iftar party. BJP is an ally of Mufti's Peoples Democratic Party in the state government.