Politics of ‘Roza Iftar‘ at play in Uttar Pradesh

The politics of ‘Roza Iftar’ will be at play once again in the coming weeks with leaders of different political parties vying to host one during the holy month of Ramzan.

The state has witnessed this political ‘ritual’ during Ramzan ever since late Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna introduced it in the political circles as state’s chief minister in 1974.

Bahuguna’s initiative became a tradition over the years and most of the state’s and central leaders, including late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, began hosting Iftar parties. Successive chief ministers, including Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh and Union home minister Rajnath Singh simply continued the tradition at their official residence. As state chief minister BSP chief Mayawati too had hosted ‘iftar’ but at a five star hotel in the state capital. Late Ram Prakash Gupta was probably the only exception.

In 2017, chief minister Yogi Adityanath, however, decided not to host any such party. Yogi also stayed away from the Iftar party that governor Ram Naik had hosted at the Raj Bhawan on June 23, 2017. A question mark hangs over Yogi’s participation this year too at the governor’s do at Raj Bhawan on June 8.

As Mahant of Gorakhnath temple, Yogi has organized “Kanya Poojan” etc. on a number of occasions but stayed away from hosting Iftars. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too did not host Iftar though his predecessors Manmohan Singh and Atal Bihari Bajpai had hosted such parties. So far the BJP ministers too have also stayed away from hosting Iftar parties.

“This is between me and my Allah. I do not want to comment on the issue,” said Mohsin Raza, the only Muslim minister in Yogi Adityanath government.

Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) president Raj Babbar will hold one in coming weeks. “Yes, Babbar will host a party on May 28,” said senior Congress leader Siraj Mehandi.

Former minister and senior Congress leader Ammar Rizvi has invited US Ambassador to India to attend the Iftar this year. The Samajwadi Party is also likely to host one next month (announcement likely to be made after Kairana and Noorpur bypoll).

More leaders are giving a final shape to Iftar programmes in coming weeks.