Opposition parties flock Sonia Gandhi's dinner, TDP, AIMIM not invited


Sonia Gandhi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ahmed Patel, AK Antony and Randeep Surjewala were among the Congress leaders present. "This dinner is not for politics, but it is natural that when government is taking no interest in running the government then all the opposition leaders who when they meet will discuss politics as well as discuss issues of national interest", Randeep Surjewala, Congress chief spokesperson told reporters after the dinner.

"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.

The leaders included Sharad Pawar, chief of Nationalist Congress Party; Jitan Ram Manjhi, chief of Hindustan Awam Morcha who recently quit NDA; Kanimozhi of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam; Tejashwi Yadav, former deputy Bihar chief minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader; Babulal Marandi, former Jharkhand chief minister and leaders from Left parties.

Sonia had invited DMK working president MK Stalin for dinner, but he had earlier responded that he would not be able to attend as the Assembly session in Tamil Nadu was beginning from March 15.

Sonia Gandhi hosted the opposition dinner at 10 Janpath.

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"Much political talk but much more important - tremendous positive energy, warmth and genuine affection", he wrote, and tagged a group photo of the attendees. KCR got support from various parties in first place, and he is set to meet leaders of regional parties and bureaucrats after the ongoing budget session in Telangana.

Feeling revitalised after several by-poll victories and improved performance in local body elections, Congress is trying to build up pressure on the Modi government on issues related to agrarian crisis, unemployment growth and rising cases of scams, yet it is conscious that dislodging the BJP may not fructify without building an alliance on the lines of 2004.

"Laluji's (RJD supremo Lalu Prasad) effort to have a mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) at the national level, this was a positive move towards that", he said and accused the BJP-led government of political vendetta against its opponents.

"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". Sonia Gandhi asked me why Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal Chief Minister) didn't come.

It is also noteworthy that Sonia Gandhi took the lead for the get together of the leaders even after Rahul Gandhi has taken over as the Congress President in December past year with the feeling in the Opposition that senior leaders would show deference to her more than to her son.