NEW DELHI: Clearly 2016 has not been the year for the Congress party that seems to be on a low ebb in that party president Sonia Gandhi is reported to have cancelled the traditional iftar party, that was used with much flair last year to consolidate the Bihar political alliance that swept to victory. Instead Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, despite its oft heard murmurings against the very notion of ‘iftar parties’ has joined the herd to host an iftar ‘event’ in New Delhi.

"The aim is to tell the world about Indianness and help people from all communities to live in peace and harmony... India is a ray of hope and peace for the Muslim world," RSS leader Indresh Kumar. He is the patron of the RSS Muslim wing,the Muslim Rashtriya Manch. This was formed in 2002.

The RSS and BJP leaders have always accused the Congress of minority appeasement, citing iftar parties as a case in point. However, now the RSS in an outreach that remained a limited exercise, invited envoys of 140 countries including Pakistan, to break the fast with its leadership. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to attend the iftar on July 4.

The Congress, however, seems to be on a low wicket with Sonia Gandhi feeling the weight of opposition politics. Son Rahul Gandhi is not in the country, the opposition is in some disarray, with the motivation to reach out to the minorities through this non-event visibly low.

The RSS exercise has attracted flak, from its ally in Maharashtra the Shiv Sena. Kumar insisted that the iftar party was not being organised by the RSS but “by Muslims for the Muslim community.” The Sangh, he said, does not organise iftar. The Shiv Sena, dismissed this plea, maintaining “This is pure hypocrisy from BJP-RSS. They used to criticise Congress for organising iftar parties.”

“It is surprising that such Iftar parties are organised by the RSS, but at the same time, not surprising also, because the RSS and the BJP seem to be losing the Hindutva agenda,” Shiv Sena leader Manisha Kayande told ANI.

“Even the Ram Mandir issue, on which this party rose from two MPs to 181, has now been abandoned by them and they are calling it a cultural program. This is hypocritical on the party’s side,” she added.

The usual gentry of retired bureaucrats, academics and others has been invited along with the envoys to break fast with the RSS hardliners. And the BJP top brass.