Heard at Rahul iftar : did you see the video?

Narendra Modi's fitness - political and physical - dominated the conversation at Rahul Gandhi's iftar on Wednesday.

By Sanjay K. Jha
  • Published 14.06.18
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Sitaram Yechury and Rahul Gandhi at the iftar in New Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI) 

New Delhi: Narendra Modi's fitness - political and physical - dominated the conversation at Rahul Gandhi's iftar on Wednesday.

The host was heard asking CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury if he had seen the Prime Minister's video, triggering ripples of laughter at the high table, sources said.

"If Modiji couldn't resist the temptation of demonstrating his fitness, he could have posted a yoga video," a senior leader was quoted as saying.

Many Opposition politicians teased others, asking why they had not accepted the fitness challenge and uploaded a video.

Modi had earlier in the day uploaded a video of himself exercising in his picturesque lawn in response to a "fitness challenge" he had accepted from Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli.

Whether or not the Prime Minister could convey his message on the importance of exercise, he did succeed in making the Opposition - which has often accused him of indulging in witch-hunt - laugh.

As the politicians had a bit of fun, many intellectuals and activists at the iftar too spent time discussing Modi, but they focused on his government's performance and his own popularity. The fallout of the agrarian and job crises was a serious topic of debate.

Some of the guests felt Modi wouldn't allow a "normal" election and would do something to alter the emerging political dynamics that threatened to derail his comeback bid.

The timing of the next Lok Sabha election was also a topic of discussion, but most senior politicians felt it would be held on time in April-May 2019.

The senior politicians barely discussed politics as they felt that the get-together was meant for a feast. The political aspect silently manifested itself in the presence of leaders from different Opposition parties, other than the Samajwadi Party although Ram Gopal Yadav was expected to come. Leaders from the BSP, Trinamul, CPM, CPI, DMK, JDS, NCP, RJD, JMM and the AUDF were present.

Former President Pranab Mukherjee, who has again grabbed the centre stage after his controversial visit to the RSS headquarters, was the main attraction. Although the initial moments were tense when Rahul took the chair beside him, the Congress president took care to talk to the veteran and normalise the situation. Both smiled and exchanged views several times before Mukherjee left.

Another former President, Pratibha Patil, and former Vice-President Hamid Ansari were also present along with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and several senior Congress leaders.