No Iftar Party At The Rashtrapati Bhavan This Year, As Per New 'No Religious Celebrations' Policy

| June 7 , 2018 , 08:13 IST

In a year where the US President Donald Trump is hosting Iftar parties at the White House, despite his well-known aversion to Islam, President Ram Nath Kovind will not be hosting the annual Iftar party at the Rashtrapati Bhavan this year, an official said on Wednesday.

According to Ashok Malik, Press Secretary to the president, not only Iftar, but there will be no other religious celebrations or observances in public buildings such as Rashtrapati Bhavan.

"After the President took office in July 2017, he directed Rashtrapati Bhavan being a public building there would be no religious observances at taxpayer expense. This is in keeping with the principles of a secular state and applies to all festivities, irrespective of religion," said Ashok Malik.

He added that President Kovind would continue to wish fellow citizens on major religious festivals.

Iftar is celebrated by Muslims as breaking of the fast observed by them during the month of Ramzan. Traditionally, Iftar parties have been hosted at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, except during the tenure of APJ Abdul Kalam, who was the president from 2002-2007. Kalam had directed that the funds be used for the Iftar party be set aside and given to orphanages.

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When Pratibha Patil became president after Kalam in 2007, she restarted the Iftar parties at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, which would see in attendance the Prime Minister, ministers, and leaders of the Congress, Left and BJP parties.

Despite the tradition of Prime Ministers attending the Rashtrapati Bhavan Iftar parties, PM Narendra Modi has skipped the event 4 times, although at least one Union minister such as Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley or Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi made their presence felt.