As the holy month of Ramzan draws to an end, so does a tradition that began almost 44 years ago. This is for the first time in four decades that no political party has hosted the traditional Iftar party in Uttar Pradesh.
It is only Governor Ram Naik who is said to be hosting the Iftar party on June 3 though invites for the same have not yet been sent out.
The Samajwadi Party, which regularly hosted Iftar parties, has given it a miss this time. In fact, whenever the party was in power, there would be two Iftars – one hosted by SP Chief Minister and the other by the party.
“It is probably due to elections that we have not hosted the Iftar party. All of us were busy campaigning and then after the results came in, the mood in the party was sombre and no one even raised the issue,” said an SP leader.
Congress has similar reasons for skipping the Iftar party.
“When the results came in, UPCC President Raj Babbar sent his resignation and there was no one we could talk to on the subject. I personally feel that, irrespective of the party’s performance in election, we should have hosted the Iftar,” said a former UPCC President.
Congress sources, however, said that the party was short on funds and could not afford to host the Iftar party.
Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh have been regularly hosting Iftar parties during the month of Ramzan. Rajnath Singh, as Chief Minister, welcomed Muslim clerics and other eminent members of the community with open arms.
Yogi Adityanath, however, made it clear that he would not host ‘any such events’ and that put an end to tradition at 5, Kalidas Marg, the Chief Minister’s official residence.
Adityanath, incidentally, also discontinued the tradition of Chief Ministers going to attend Eid Prayers and addressing the community.
BSP President Mayawati also hosted her Iftar party but this was held in a local five-star hotel and non-Muslims, as a rule, were not invited.
When Mayawati ceased to be Chief Minister, her then trusted aide Naseemuddin Siddiqui hosted the Iftar party.
After his exit from the BSP in 2017, the party does not have a Muslim leader of stature who can be entrusted the responsibility.
The tradition of hosting Iftar parties was begun in Uttar Pradesh in 1974 by then Chief Minister Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna.
The exercise was aimed at maintaining good relations with the minority community and the attendance of Muslim at these Iftar parties was seen as a barometer of a party’s popularity among the Muslims.