Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Positive energy, genuine affection: Rahul says Sonia's dinner meet 'fabulous, an opportunity'

Positive energy, genuine affection: Rahul says Sonia's dinner meet 'fabulous, an opportunity'

This dinner hosted by Sonia Gandhi for opposition parties should not be seen through the prism of politics, it was for friendship and better dialogue between parties, the Congress leader said.

Later in the day, former Congress president Sonia Gandhi hosted a dinner meeting for opposition parties at her official residence to strengthen its strategy against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led ruling alliance.

IUML's P. K. Kunhalikutty, Kerala Congress-Mani' Jose K. Mani, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik's Babulal Marandi, Revolutionary Socialist Party's N. K. Premachandran, veteran socialist leader Sharad Yadav, Rashtriya Lok Dal's Ajit Singh and Janata Dal-Secular's Kupendra Reddy were also present as was Hindustan Awam Morcha leader Jiten Ram Manjhi, who had quit the NDA last month.

Congress leader and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi hosted a dinner on Tuesday for the leaders of opposition parties. "Much political talk but much more important - tremendous positive energy, warmth and genuine affection", Rahul Gandhi tweeted later. KCR was seen emerging in South India after he announced to initiate a collaboration of local parties against both national parties - Congress and BJP. Rahul Gandhi, the Congress president called the dinner "an opportunity" for leaders to "meet and bond". The BJD and the TRS rule Odisha and Telangana respectively.

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.

Outside, Sharad Yadav spoke of the dinner as one step closer to lining up the opposition on the same side at the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. It is interesting to be noted that the abovementioned ministers had been pulled out from the Modi Govt. before. "This dinner was not hosted for politics, but for amity and friendship. The intention is not political, but to hold discussions in family-like setting at a time when the nation is confronted with a number of issues and thousands of crores being taken out of the country", Surjewala told reporters after the dinner. He also accused the government of running away from debate on key issues such as banking frauds.

He said opposition leaders got together to discuss issues in the national interest, create bonhomie in the opposition and exchange views.

Seventeen opposition parties came together against the BJP-led NDA during the presidential and vice-presidential elections past year, and Sonia Gandhi has been holding occasional meetings to nurture the bond.

The Bahujan Samaj Party, which has skipped Opposition meetings in the past, was represented by senior leader Satish Chandra Misra.

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