The iftar which was being held after a gap of two years and the first since Rahul Gandhi took over as the President of the Party.
New Delhi: After a day of speculation that former President Pranab Mukherjee might not make it to the list of invitees for the Congress’ Iftar party on June 13, the Party officially clarified late evening that Mr Mukherjee has been invited and he has accepted the invitation also. The iftar which was being held after a gap of two years and the first since Rahul Gandhi took over as the President of the Party, is likely to be another show of Opposition unity, with all the leaders, who were present at the swearing-in of the Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka, likely to attend or send their representatives.
Speculation was rife throughout the day that Mr Mukherjee was unlikely to be invited with many party insiders claiming that the leadership had decided not to invite former vice president Hamid Ansari as well, since they had held constitutional positions. Mr Mukherjee’s office too confirmed that no invitation has reached them yet.
However, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted late evening: “Congress President has extended an invite to Sh. Pranab Mukherjee & he has graciously accepted. Hope this will set to rest unwarranted speculation.”.
“To set the record straight, May I point out that Pranab Dada had attended the last Iftar get together organised by then Congress President, Smt. Sonia Gandhi too. Bereft of unwarranted issues, let compassion & friendship for all guide us in the holy month of Ramzan,” he added.
It might be recalled that Mr Mukherjee’s decision of addressing an RSS convocation at its Nagpur headquarters had sent political circles into a tizzy with the Congress Party split wide open on the issue.
While many Congress leaders like Ramesh Chennithala, Jairam Ramesh and Anand Sharma had openly criticised the former President, officially the party had commended the speech made by him at the function.
Mr Mukherjee’s own daughter Sharmishtha and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel had also come down heavily on him for his decision to attend the function.
The former President’s decision had stirred the pot on the ruling side too. NDA ally Shiv Sena in an editorial in Party mouthpiece ‘Saamna’ had written that RSS was preparing for ‘Plan B’ by inviting Pranab Mukherjee as it was not confident of a Modi win in the general elections.
Sources in many parties, including the Trinamool Congress and the erstwhile NDA ally Telugu Desam Party, feel that Mr Mukherjee has the potential of emerging as the most respectable Prime Ministerial face in case of a hung verdict.