Days after addressing workers at the RSS headquarters, former president Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday evening broke break with Rahul Gandhi at an Iftar party hosted by the Congress chief in New Delhi.
Mukherjee’s predecessor Pratibha Patil, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, besides former vice president Hamid Ansari and a host of opposition leaders were among the prominent personalities present in the party.
While top opposition leaders were conspicuous by their absence, middle-rung leaders of many parties were at the Iftar hosted at a local luxury hotel. No senior leader of Samajwadi Party attended it, party sources said.
This is the first Iftar party hosted by Gandhi as Congress president.
Among other leaders included CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury, BSP's Satish Chandra Misra, TMC's Dinesh Trivedi and DMK's Kanimozhi.
Breakaway JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, JD(S) leader Danish Ali, JMM's Hemant Soren, NCP's DP Tripathy, RJD's Manoj Jha, AIUDF leader Badruddin Ajmal, RLD's Mehrajuddin also attended the party.
"Good food, friendly faces and great conversation make for a memorable Iftar! We were honoured to have two former Presidents, Pranab Da and Smt Pratibha Patil ji join us, along with leaders from different political parties, the media, diplomats and many old and new friends," Gandhi said on Twitter after the Iftar.
Mukherjee was seen conversing with Gandhi and exchanging pleasantries with him and several other senior Congress leaders.
There was considerable disquiet in the Congress after Mukherjee accepted the invitation of the RSS to address its workers at its headquarters in Nagpur.
After much consternation, the party, however, later complimented him for his speech for showing the mirror of truth that carried lessons on pluralism and secularism to the Sangh.
Gandhi came along with Mukherjee and while the former president left after sometime, the Congress chief offered to drop him back but Mukherjee politely refused.
Earlier, leaders of some opposition parties met at a different location to discuss possibilities of a larger alliance.
Kanimozhi later said, "Everyone wants alliances but today's meeting was a courtesy meeting."
Also present at the Iftar was a large gathering of diplomats, especially from the Islamic countries, including the Ambassador of Russia to India, party sources stated.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was not present as she is currently abroad on a media check-up.
Top Congress leaders including many former chief ministers and governors and ex-central ministers were present.
These included Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ambika Soni, Janardan Dwivedi, Anand Sharma, Veerappa Moily, Jairam Ramesh, Mukul Wasnik, KV Thomas, Shivraj Chouhan, PJ Kurien and former chief ministers Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Prithviraj Chavan and Shiela Dikshit.
(With inputs from PTI)