By Sreyashi Mazumdar
While paging through the withered pages of past, one might have run into a string of Ramdan fiestas hosted by Vajpayee when he was at the helm of affairs. Generally considered as a friendly gesture to address the largest minority of the nation, which kicked off with Jawaharlal Nehru’s close-knitted Iftar banquets, the ceremony over the period of time has hit a crooked path.
The pure spirit of Iftar has shriveled up. With the kind of grandeur demonstrated by the Iftar parties, the political maneuvering being exhibited and the paparazzi predominant during such parties, Iftar has somewhere down the line parted ways with its real essence – a customary which encompasses brotherhood and sodality.
Starting from the much celebrated Aam Aadmi, Arvind Kejriwal, to that of Congress’s chief, Sonia Gandhi, every who’s who in the political circle is trying to play their best cards through their customized versions of Iftar politics. Kejriwal’s Iftar was nothing less than a show-stopper in the midst of a political labyrinth. His foeman, Najeeb Jung and his much talked of predecessor Sheila Dikshit were found sharing candid snapshots with him, they were all smiles and hugs in the party. Even though the new found bonhomie might have raised millions of eyebrows, it clearly commemorated the true meaning of Iftar, especially when it has been emblazoned with political colours.
If this wasn’t enough, Mrs Gandhi’s Iftar party served a plushy platter of both fodder (politically propelled scoops) and food. Even though the party didn’t have a handful of political mavericks, her party fleshed out Congress’s preparation for the forthcoming monsoon session. The generally media-uncouth Rahul was found palling up with media persons. Taking a pot shot at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said, “I will speak in parliament, even if PM speaks or not,” as quoted in an India Today report. If one would have to summarize the entire Congress’s Iftar episode in a more flamboyant and hammy way, SRK’s much celebrated Om shaanti Om dialogue- “Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost” – wouldn’t have refuted the core essence of their intent.
The Iftar saga would have been incomplete without President Mukherjee’s banquet. The fete wouldn’t have garnered currency and the kind of brouhaha it kicked off across media houses, hadn’t it been for Narendra Modi, who decided to snub the ceremonial.
Since Modi started off as the Prime Minister of the nation, he hasn’t done enough to address the largest minority of the country. Last year, he fended off wearing a skull cap, passing it off as a form of tokenism rendered by the Congress. However, without fail, our beloved Prime Minister’s pink slip to president’s Iftar party reinstated his coldness for the Muslim community.
A proper introspection of the Iftar saga leaves one baffled. With the holy month of Ramdan coming to a close, Indian politics has taken off to a different level. Despite the banquets orchestrated with never-found bonhomie and unusual handshakes predominating the Indian media and political circles, reflecting brotherhood with the festival of Eid knocking at the door, Iftar has turned into nothing less than a political circus wherein every inmate of the circus is trying his or her best to reap benefits.