A Congress member in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday raked up the issue of Prime Minister Narendra Modi not hosting Iftaar this Ramzaan while noting that he had offered prayers in Nepal’s famed Pashupatinath Temple.
The member, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said while no one has any objection to the Prime Minister going from “Pashupatinath to Tirupati”, there has been a practice since Independence of Prime Ministers hosting Iftaars in the holy month of Ramzan. “Even Atal Bihari Vajpayee continued with this tradition, but what has happened now,” Chowdhury, a former Union Minister, said in an apparent reference to Modi not hosting an Iftaar reception this Ramzaan. His remarks were met with strong opposition from BJP members, prompting Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to observe that it would not go on record.
“Such personal matters will not go on record. I am sorry …. This is not the way. If you want a party, go to him,” she told Chowdhury as P K Biju and M B Rajesh (both CPI-M) supported the Congress member.
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Raising the issue during zero hour, Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandhopadhyay recalled the Prime Minister’s visit to the Pashupatinath Temple yesterday and his donation of ghee and 2500 kg of sandalwood.
Bandopadhyay said he appreciated the action of the Prime Minister but he expected him equally to wish Eid Mubarak to the other community. He wanted to know why this “differentiation”. Noting that India believed in the principles of secularism, communal harmony and national integration, he said “some evil forces are trying to create communal tension”.
Bandopadhyay cautioned the government to “remain alert, cautious and vigilant to prevent communal incidents as otherwise safety and security of the common man and the secular fabric will be under threat.”
A number of members including NCP leader Tariq Anwar, Bhagwant Mann (AAP) and K Kavitha (TRS) associated himself with the TMC leader, as also Congress member Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.
Disputing Bandopadhyay’s submission, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said “I want to put on record that this government believes in ‘sarva dharma sambhav’. And the Prime Minister has greeted ‘Eid Mubarak’ to members of the Muslim community.”
Later, Congress members were in the Well demanding that Chowdhury be allowed to have his say as merely associating with the TMC leader would not do. But the Speaker moved to the next item on the agenda.