In what can only be described as a shocking about turn on part of the ‘secular’ parties, they have given Iftar parties a miss this year. This is in sharp contrast to the stand taken in the past by the same political outfits when it comes to Iftar. The so-called secular parties and the liberal brigade have always maintained that Iftar parties are an intrinsic part of India’s secular ethos. These political Iftar parties used to be a grand affair. Taking Delhi as a case in point. An RTI reply revealed that in the year 2015-16, Kejriwal wasted Rs. 4,385,810 on Iftar parties. In 2016-17, the Kejriwal government had spent Rs. 11,489,544 on organizing Iftar parties. In 2017-18, he spent Rs. 4,223,619 for the same purpose.
Leftist portals and certain eminent analysts have not been welcome to the idea that true secularism is not just about political Iftar parties. A 2018 Scroll story, therefore, argued that we need to get over the idea that true secularism lies beyond Iftar and Hindus in skull caps.
After President Kovind took the decision of not hosting the Iftar party, a DailyO article went on to argue that India must save its political Iftar. Iftar party was described as an essential tool of inclusiveness.
In fact, the tradition of political Iftar parties is pretty old. India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, among other things, also imposed political Iftar parties on the nation. This was continued by succeeding Congress generations and several ‘secular’ parties which arrived on the political scene. In such circumstances, it appears rather absurd how the secular parties suddenly gave up on a tradition which they once claimed to be so close to their heart and India’s secular ethos.
The demise of political Iftar has not been sudden. Last year, it was reported that the Mahagathbandhan parties were planning to give Iftar a miss in order to get rid of the tag of Muslim appeasement. The Congress did hold an Iftar party later on. But it turned out to be more of a show of opposition unity than an expression of inclusiveness and secularism.
The way the so-called secular parties have given up on the political Iftar even though the liberal brigade kept fighting for it exposes the sham of secularism they have been professing for several decades. The political Iftar was a political stunt deriving its importance out of vote bank politics and a perception fight. Its demise is a result of the very same factor.