March 18, 2018

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi hosts dinner today; TDP, BJD, TRS not invited

14 March 2018, 09:48 | Opal Carroll

Leaders of 20 Oppn parties at Sonia Gandhi's dinner: Grand 2019 alliance in the making?


An opportunity for leaders from different political parties to meet and bond, informally.

"The party is splintering under him and such a party can not hold any coalition", he said, replying to a query on the Congress hosting a dinner for Opposition leaders on Tuesday evening.

Congress chief spokesperson Surjewala, however, said the dinner was not organised for politics but for amity and friendship among Opposition parties.

Lalu's son and Leader of Opposition in the Bihar Assembly Tejashwi Yadav is also likely to attend the dinner but there was no confirmation.

Outside, Sharad Yadav spoke of the dinner as one step closer to lining up the opposition on the same side at the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

As many as 20 opposition parties are attending the dinner hosted by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi at her residence in New Delhi.

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Indian Union Muslim League 's P. K. Kunhalikutty, Jose K. Mani of the Kerala Congress (Mani) party, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik's Babulal Marandi, the Revolutionary Socialist Party's N. K. Premachandran, veteran socialist leader Sharad Yadav, Rashtriya Lok Dal's Ajit Singh and Janata Dal-Secular's Kupendra Reddy were also present, as was Hindustan Awam Morcha leader Jiten Ram Manjhi, who quit the National Democratic Alliance last month. "Much political talk but much more important - tremendous positive energy, warmth and genuine affection", Rahul Gandhi tweeted later.

"The opposition parties are united. and the NDA breaking apart", he said, pointing to Chandrababu Naidu's TDP and the Shiv Sena, the BJP ally from Maharashtra that has increasingly been its sharpest critic.

Those conspicuous by their absence included Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal C M Mamata Banerjee and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav. A senior BSP leader though confirmed that it has approached both SP and Congress, as well as RLD, requesting them to issue a whip to vote in favour of their Rajya Sabha candidate on March 23, but no talks were held on an alliance for 2019 elections.

Sonia Gandhi had earlier called for opposition unity, saying parties should set aside their minor differences to come together in the larger interest of keeping the BJP out of power.

This dinner is also significant in the context of moves by regional parties like the Telanagana Rashtra Samiti and the Telugu Desam Party which have attacked BJP in the recent past and are said to be jockeying for a third front of parties against the BJP and Congress.

At a parliamentary party meeting of the BJP on Tuesday, senior leaders blamed Congress party for not allowing discussion and debate in the House. "Congress doesn't have democracy in its genes", parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar said.

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