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Published On: Tue, Mar 13th, 2018

Opposition Unity: Food for Thought on Menu at Sonia Gandhi’s Dinner

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63288758NEW DELHI : UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday hosted a dinner for Opposition leaders, amid talk of forging a broader front against the BJP-led NDA ahead of the 2019 General Elections.

Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Samajwadi Party’s Ramgopal Yadav, BSP’s Satish Mishra, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha’s Babulal Marandi, DMK’s Kanimozhi, Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh, AIUDF’s Badruddin Ajmal, RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, Hindustani Awam Morcha’s Jitan Ram Manjhi, Communist Party of India’s D Raja and National Conference’s Omar Abdullah were among those who attended the dinner hosted at 10, Janpath.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi and other senior party leaders like Manmohan Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge were also present on the occasion. Commenting on it, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “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.”

On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi said, “Fabulous dinner… an opportunity for leaders from different political parties to meet and bond, informally… tremendous positive energy, warmth and genuine affection.”
Sonia Gandhi, say those who attend her rare dinner parties at 10 Janpath, is a very good and thoughtful host. The dinner on Tuesday by Sonia will give her and her party plenty of food for thought.

The dinner takes place in the backdrop of the stupendous wins by the BJP in Tripura and having managed to form alliance governments in Meghalaya, where Congress was the single largest party, and Nagaland. What’s worse is just after the results came in, Mamata Banerjee rued the fact that Rahul Gandhi did not accept her alliance proposal.
“Had Rahul Gandhi accepted my proposal for an alliance among the Congress, the TMC and local hill parties, the situation would have been different in Tripura,” said Mamata.
Making matters worse was the fact that Rahul Gandhi chose to take a short break, again. On day one of Parliament, it was the TMC, and not Congress, which was seen agitating over the big bank scam. Congress once again lost out in taking the lead. Rahul did take the lead in protesting the day after but by then the match was lost.

Even on the demonetisation issue, the lead was taken by the Trinamool. It was Mamata Banerjee who had marched to Rashtrapati Bhawan and reached out to other opposition parties.

As Congress watched other regional stalwarts take the lead, the strain started showing on Congress. Of late Rahul’s narrative against PM Modi has been matched by Sharad Pawar and Mamata Banerjee. Pawar is planning another meeting of opposition parties to plan a strategy against Modi.
Tejashwi Yadav too has emerged as a strong voice against the BJP.
The Congress has a reason to be worried. In 2004, it was Sonia who had reached out to stitch an alliance against the BJP. Congress had a headstart then. Today, the party is in a shambles. Also, the regional players are stronger and smarter. The big brotherly treatment by the Congress is no longer acceptable.
“Sonia once again has to take the lead. In 2004, she pushed herself to be accepted as a leader. Today, she is pushing for her son to be accepted as the leader of the opposition unity,” said a senior Congress leader, who did not wish to be named.
It’s now a question of Congress’ ‘asmita’ (honour). And once again the responsibility has fallen on Sonia’s shoulders. (With Agency Inputs).




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