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Opp who’s who in attendance at Sonia’s feast for anti-BJP unity

| | New Delhi
Opp who’s who in attendance at Sonia’s feast for anti-BJP unity

A galaxy of Opposition leaders including Maratha strongman and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar attended the dinner hosted by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday to set the stage for Opposition unity in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

While Pawar set aside speculation that he is leading a different path to unite the Opposition by turning up at 10, Janpath, leaders of 20 Opposition parties made it for the dinner also attended by Rahul Gandhi, and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh amongst others.

Former J&K Chief Minister and National Conference president Omar Abdullah, RJD’s Misha Bharati and Tejashwi Yadav, former Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, former Jharkhand CM and chief of JVM Babulal Marandi, JMM’s Hemant Soren, DMK’s Kanimozhi and AIUDF’s Badruddin Ajmal reached 10 Janpath well in time and were greeted in person by Rahul.

Congress spokespersons Randeep Surejewala said that the dinner should not be seen from the prism of politics, “it was for friendship and better dialogue between parties,” he said.

Former JD(U) president Sharad Yadav, RLD chief Ajit Singh, Left party leader D Raja too attended the ‘political’ feast. The Samajwadi Party (SP) was represented by senior leader Ram Gopal Yadav.

Significantly, the BSP also joined the show of Opposition unity. BSP chief Maywati sent her trusted lieutenant Satish Mishra to represent her party at the dinner. This is seen as an interesting development, as the BSP had skipped a similar dinner hosted by Sonia ahead of presidential and vice-presidential polls.

Those who have not been invited by Sonia include leaders of the TRS, the BJD and the TDP which last week pulled out its Ministers from the Modi Cabinet but remains a constituent of NDA. Congress sources said that these parties were not invited because they are yet seen close to the NDA.

Pawar who had earlier said that he may not be available for the dinner reached 10 Janpath accompanied by his party colleague Tariq Anwar. The former Union Minister in then Manmohan Singh Government had held two meetings of the Opposition parties recently and has scheduled a third one during the ensuing Budget Session.

The Trinamool Congress was represented by Party MPs Sudip Bandopadhaya and Derek O’Brien since party chief and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee could not make it to Sonia’s invitation due to prior commitments.

In another important development, the Janata Dal(S) also attended the dinner. The participation of JD(S) leader Kupendra Reddy is significant since the JD(S) and the Congress are pitted against each other in Karnataka. The JD(S) presence at the dinner has opened the possibility of the JD(S) and the Congress coming together in case of a hung House in Karnataka post the forthcoming Assembly elections.

Sonia’s dinner comes amid renewed push by Opposition parties to take on the Modi Government in Parliament on several issues including the PNB fraud case. The united Opposition has disrupted Parliament for over a week now, ever since it convened for the rest of the Budget Session after a recess.  



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