Economy

Tremendous positive energy, warmth & genuine affection at Sonia Gandhi dinner: Rahul

Tremendous positive energy, warmth & genuine affection at Sonia Gandhi dinner: Rahul

The 20 parties came together on a common platform at a dinner hosted by former Congress president and Chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party Sonia Gandhi, an attempt to forge a united Opposition front to challenge the ruling BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel were among the Congress biggies who were present at the dinner.

"Dinner hosted by Sonia ji for Opposition parties should not be seen from the prism of politics, it was for friendship and better dialogue between parties", said Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala. Trinmool Congress chief mamta Banerjee had also reflected the discordance in the past and launched consultations with regional parties to form a "federal front" and even offered its leadership to TRS chief K Chandrasekhara rao.

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The prominent leaders in attendance were NCPs Sharad Pawar, SPs Ram Gopal Yadav, BSPs Satish Chandra Misra and former chief ministers Omar Abdullah, Babulal Marandi, Hemant Soren and Jiten Ram Manjhi, besides JD (U) s Sharad Yadav and RLDs Ajit Singh.

Rahul Gandhi tweeted after the dinner that there was "much political talk" but also "tremendous positive energy, warmth and genuine affection". 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.

Referring to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) pulling out of the Modi government, Tejashwi said that Opposition parties were getting together while the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was "breaking apart". It could not be taken up amid objections raised by opposition parties who have written to Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan requesting her intervention.

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While Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) joined hands to contest the two seats in UP together, Congress stayed away from the alliance and fielded its own candidates.

Media reports said Tejashwi Yadav and Sharad Yadav later told reporters it was the first step towards a comprehensive alliance of the 2019 elections. "It was a political dinner but there were no political talks".

The show of Opposition unity will not stop at Sonia Gandhi's dinner. However, all three were represented by senior party leaders.

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The dinner she had hosted at her residence on February 5, 2004 - days after then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee made a decision to call for early general elections in the hope that his "India Shining" slogan would help the BJP-led NDA retain power - had marked the first step of the Congress' revival plan for the hustings following successive drubbings in state polls.


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