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Mudda panellists feel that RSS’s newfound interest for iftar parties is driven by vote bank politics

It is time for Iftar diplomacy, and all parties are hosting Iftar dinners. The “political iftar” supper is seen as a move aimed at “minority appeasement”. APN’s popular debate Mudda discussed the issue. Anchorperson Anant Tyagi posed the questions to BJP’s Ashok Thakur, Congress’ Hilal Naqvi, SP’s Pradeep Singh, RJD’s Ashok Singh, noted journalist Kulsum Mustafa, and APN consultant Govind Pant Raju.

Anant wanted to know how come the RSS is hosting Iftar parties. Thakur said: “The RSS is a national party, and respects all minorities.” Anant asked then how come RSS is considered a Hindu party. Thakur replied: “RSS has a lot of Muslim swayamsevaks.”

Naqvi said: “The BJP is fearful of the Congress and Rahul Gandhi; so they are doing anything possible to appease all sections of the society. First time, we are getting to see RSS aligning with Muslims.”

Singh said: ”Iftar dinners are not new. We have been doing such bhandaras as well. All communities have to sit together, and we must have mandirs, mutts and masjids. There is no politics here. I have no objections to the RSS hosting Iftar. At least they now realise that Muslims are a part of the Indian community.”

Mustafa said: “If RSS has taken the initiative to host Iftar dinners, it is a good sign. I have no objection to the RSS hosting Iftar, but I object to the use of the word ‘Iftar party’; iftar is a breaking of fast. It’s a solemn and serious affair.”

Raju said: “RSS hosting Iftar shows that it is changing with the times. Indianness is an inclusive concept, and can’t be limited to a definition of Hindutva.”

Naqvi said: “Certain traditions are part of our culture. Every political party is looking into its constituency. It will be wrong to believe that the RSS move is not political.”

Thakur said: “There has been no change in RSS and BJP’s thinking.”

Singh said: “The 2019 polls will show to all we are ready to join hands with secular parties.”

Meanwhile, the debate led to the issue of grand alliance against the BJP in the 2019 polls. RLSP chief and Union minister Upendra Kushwaha has said he wanted no truck with the RJD after its leader Tejashwi Yadav invited him to join the “Mahagathbandhan” (grand alliance) In Bihar. To this, Thakur said: “Kushwaha will remain with us. He is not falling into any trap.”

Mustafa said: “Let us make one thing clear: There are Indians in this country, not Hindus. Of late, BJP is trying to woo minorities, and these iftars are definitely political moves.”

Raju said: “Any pact or an alliance will have a political agenda. Feeding the poor is among the best deeds one can do to humanity. Sadly, parties are doing it to gain mileage.”

Singh said: “Roza iftars are done outside on roadsides. But this time, the government did not give us permission. In Mau and Meerut, Mulsim bodies organised iftars, and if senior Sangh leaders are part of such events, how can the Sangh disassociate itself from such moves?”

—Compiled by Niti Singh Bhandari

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