[President Pranab Mukherjee meeting the invitees, at Ramzan Iftar Program, hosted by him, at Rashtrapati Bhawan, in New Delhi on July 01, 2016.]
New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday evening hosted Ramzan Iftar at Rashtrapati Bhavan which was attended among others by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Union Ministers, including Arun Jaitley.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi however was conspicuous by his absence.
The President conveyed Ramzan greetings to all on the occasion and urged everyone "to spread love, affection and mutual trust during this holy month," an official statement said.
Mukherjee also expressed the hope that the spirit of Ramzan will instill in every Indian a sense of unity and pride in the composite culture of India.
Dignitaries who attended the Iftar also Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal besides Ghulam Nabi Azad, Sitaram Yechuri and Sheila Dixit and heads of diplomatic missions and senior officials and religious public leaders, the official release said.
Though the PMO did not issue any statement to reason Prime Minister Modi's absence, BJP sources said he had a busy schedule as he was to be briefed about internal security situation by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and others.
Prime Minister was absent in the Ramzan Iftar program organised by the Rashtrapati Bhavan in 2015 too. Interestingly, at that time too Modi's "busy schedule" was cited as the reason for his inability to attend the customary yearly affair.