President Ram Nath Kovind follows Dr Kalam’s footsteps, says no to Iftar party at Rashtrapati Bhavan

In a recent decision by the President of India, the Iftar party hosted every year at the Rashtrapati Bhavan won’t be celebrated this year.

“After the Ram Nath Kovind took office, he decided there would be no religious celebrations or observances in a public building such as Rashtrapati Bhavan on taxpayer’s expense. This is in keeping with the principles of a secular state and applies to all religious occasions, irrespective of religion”, said the Press Secretary to President Ashok Malik.

This is a departure from the past, as it is a tradition which has continued for a very long time. The only time it was not celebrated was during APJ Abdul Kalam’s Presidency between 2002 and 2007. The decision not to host Iftar parties was to avoid using secular public institutions to celebrate some religious functions. The practice of Rastrapathi Bhavan hosting official Iftar party is believed to have started in the tenure of Indira Gandhi in 1970s.

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It was clear that Iftar would be discontinued when Diwali and Christmas celebrations too were discontinued last year. On Diwali though, the Rashtrapati Bhavan was lit with multi-coloured LED bulbs.

Iftar is the breaking of the ‘roza’ (fast) that is observed by the Muslims during the month of Ramzan.

Last year, the Prime Minister and his cabinet had not attended the annual Iftar party hosted by the then President Pranab Mukherjee. The idea was to dissociate from any religious functions while being incumbent at the public offices to maintain the secular nature of those offices. Prime Minister Modi is understood to be against the policy of appeasing Muslims through symbolic gestures and on the expense of the public exchequer.

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