Sonia hosts dinner for opposition parties

Political leaders including Sharad Yadav, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, Samajwadi Party's (SP) Ramgopal Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party's (BSP) Satish Mishra along with other leaders attended the dinner hosted by Sonia Gandhi.

Even if he wants to call for elections, they say, the AICC establishment had "demonstrated expertise" to ensure "the party's president's interests and choices would be fully protected during elections" by "floating the official panel of candidates" by letting the electoral college know about "the president's preferences". "This is a part of that effort", said expelled Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav said when asked if there will be a front of opposition parties in 2019.

The congress leaders who attended the meeting include former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, opposition leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and another senior leader Randeep Singh Surjewala.

Kicking off the first concrete effort to unite non-NDA parties in the battle to halt the Modi-Shah juggernaut from rolling the BJP back to power at the Centre in the 2019 general elections, former Congress president Sonia Gandhi hosted a dinner at her residence on Tuesday night that saw the participation of leaders from 20 Opposition parties.

After the dinner meeting, Congress President, Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said that there was positive energy and genuine affection during dinner.

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"We are united and parties like Shiv Sena and TDP are not happy in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)", said Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav said. Rahul took to Twitter and wrote: "Fabulous dinner tonight, hosted by UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi Ji". After all, political leaders cutting across party lines are all set to possibly put aside their minor differences for the "larger good" - that of mounting a challenge to BJP and its allies. "Much political talk but much more important - tremendous positive energy, warmth and genuine affection", Rahul Gandhi tweeted. "It was a show of strength by the non-BJP parties", a Left leader told news agencies. The TMC was represented by Lok Sabha MP Sudip Bandopadhyay at the dinner.

Leaders who attended the dinner said there was no structured discussion but only informal chats about politics on different tables involving leaders across party lines.

Pawar has confirmed his visit to 10 Janpath.

In the meantime, Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday hailed SP-BSP alliance for win in UP Assembly by polls.

  • Megan Austin