Saturday, 21 July, 2018

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

Rahul Gandhi Rahul Gandhi
Melinda Barton | 14 March, 2018, 09:44

Leaders of 20 opposition parties tonight got together at a dinner hosted by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, where possibilities of putting up a united front to defeat the BJP in the next general elections were discussed.

Sources in the SP and BSP, however, maintained that the dinner meet can not be seen as an attempt to forge an alliance and that "regional parties" will continue to have an "inevitable greater control in state politics".

"Much political talk but much more important - tremendous positive energy, warmth and genuine affection", he wrote, and tagged a group photo of the attendees. The Biju Janata Dal, the Aam Aadmi Party led by Delgi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi who was once a part of the UPA, the AIADMK, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the YSR Congress Party and the Shiv Sena were also not invited to the dinner.

Considerable significance is being attached to the dinner in the midst of speculation about the political realignment that could take place ahead of next year's Lok Sabha elections.

Asked about government's plans to deal with disruptions by friendly political parties such as the TDP, AIADMK and the TRS, Kumar said they would withdraw their protests if they get to participate in the debate on the general budget.

Sonia Gandhi hosted the opposition dinner at 10 Janpath.

Some leaders later said the dinner was part of effort to forge a united front to take on the BJP in the Lok Sabha battle next year, noting that regional rivals were coming together. "It was for friendship and better dialogue between parties:", he said. "When the government does not have interest to run Parliament, then it is natural that leaders of opposition parties, who are concerned about the problems faced by the people, will discuss the country's politics. This is our duty to let it work and the government has been doing everything to ensure that it happens", he said.

He also accused the government of running away from a debate on key issues such as banking frauds.

Prominent leaders in attendance were NCP's Sharad Pawar, SP's Ram Gopal Yadav, BSP's Satish Chandra Mishra and former chief ministers Omar Abdullah, Babulal Marandi, Hemant Soren and Jitan Ram Manjhi, besides JD (U)'s Sharad Yadav and RLD's Ajit Singh.

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.

Kumar cited BJP's alliance with local parties in northeast states to claim that the NDA is becoming "NDA plus". However, all three were represented by senior party leaders.