AHMEDABAD: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel may have refrained from hosting iftar parties but these symbolic functions for sadbhavana have found support from an unlikely quarter.Some senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders have attended iftar parties organized in the state by the Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM).The MRM — a platform for Muslims formed in 2002 at the initiative of then RSS sarshangchalak K S Sudarshan — organized seven-odd iftar parties across the state this year.
On July 21, the MRM had thrown an iftar party in Vadodara that was attended by senior BJP leader Jayanti Barot, and senior RSS leader and MRM patron Indresh Kumar. Incidentally, Kumar is a suspect in the Samjhauta Express blast case.
“Nearly 800 people, including 40 Muslim religious leaders and 30 Maulvis, attended the iftar party held at Purshottam Hall in Vadodara to give fillip to communal harmony in the state,” said Gani Qureshi, state coordinator of MRM.
Iftar and shehri parties were held in seven places. MRM’s national convener, Mohammad Afzal, said that the manch had organized such parties across the country, including Gujarat. “An iftar party was organized in Vadodara on July 21 while a shehri party was organized in Ahmedabad. Programmes were also held in Surat and Navsari to spread the message of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood,” he said.
Afzal further said that a mega-Eid Milan celebration is also planned in August, tentatively on August 3. “We have sent an invitation to Union minority affairs minister Najma Heptullah to be part of Eid celebrations in Vadodara where she will also be felicitated,” Afzal said.
Qureshi said that the MRM works towards building confidence among Hindus and Muslims. “Senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar is the patron-in-chief of the manch. Kumar had given the slogan, ‘Ek roti kum khayenge, magar bachchon ko padhayenge,” the MRM’s state coordinator said.
However, RSS officials have distanced themselves from iftar parties. State RSS chief Dr Jayanti Bhadeshia said that the sangh is not affiliated with the MRM. “I have no information regarding any iftar party being organized by the RSS,” Bhadeshia said.
RSS spokesperson Pradeep Jain said no member of the state RSS was directly or indirectly associated with the MRM in Gujarat. “We are not associated with any iftar programmes in the state,” he said.
The BJP was more forthcoming about its Mission Sadbhavana. Chief of the BJP minority cell, Sufi Sant Mehboob Ali, said that local BJP workers had organized iftar parties at various locations, including Junagadh, Surat, Rajpipla and even Gandhi Hotel in Juhapura area of Ahmedabad.