Sonia's dinner pe charcha a hit; 20 parties attend

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

Sources said the dinner meet was attended by 32 leaders, including Nationalist Congress Party supremo Sharad Pawar, Rashtriya Janata Dal's Tejashwi Yadav and Misa Bharti, National Conference's Omar Abdullah, CPI (M) MPs M. Salim and T.K. Rangarajan, RSP's N.K. Premachandran, Hindustan Tribal Party chief Sharad Yadav, AIDUF's Badruddin Ajmal, Bahujan Samaj Party's Satish Mishra, Samajwadi Party's Ramgopal Yadav, RLD leader Ajit Singh and DMK's Kanhomozhi, among others.

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

"This dinner was not hosted for politics, but for amity and friendship".

Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav said the effort to unite the opposition was underway.

As the AICC plenary session is set to ratify Rahul Gandhi's presidency and empower him to constitute the new Congress Working Committee, party leaders said it would be entirely up to him to choose between holding "democratic internal elections", as he once professed, or follow the traditional route of "nomination through consensus".

The Congress party led by Rahul Gandhi remained a marginal player in the byelections held in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, results for which were announced on Wednesday, putting a question mark over the revival of the party in the Hindi heartland. The Congress president said there was "much political talk" during the meeting, adding that the leaders reflected tremendous positive energy, warmth, and genuine affection.

It is also noteworthy that Sonia Gandhi organized and hosted the dinner get-together, even after Rahul Gandhi took over as Congress president in December of past year, as it was believed that senior Opposition leaders would show more deference to her than they would to her son. His party is also organising a student convention in Delhi at the end of this month. Party MP Sudi Bandopadhyay is likely to attend the meeting as her representative.

The opposition's unity has got the better of the BJP, he said, claiming that the latter had won in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections past year due to division of votes. After the meeting with Banerjee last week, Patel had told reporters that the idea of having a federal front in the future was discussed between them.

"So it seems opposition parties already feeling a euphoria and hoping that now 'Acchhe Din" will be theirs soon.

  • Tracy Klein