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The gathering included 17 parties which have been turning up for discussions called by Sonia regularly to evolve a common strategy against the BJP government. Besides, there were three additions in Jeetan Ram Manjhi of Hindustan Awam Morcha of Bihar, Babulal Marandi of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and Sharad Yadav.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi poses for a photograph with opposition party leaders before the dinner party at her residence in New Delhi on Tuesday.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar came for the dinner along with leaders of Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, DMK, RJD, JMM and the Left among others. In the absence of Mamata Banerjee, the TMC was represented by Sudip Bandopadhyay. Rahul Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel were among the Congress biggies who were present in the lawns of 10, Janpath.
“Fabulous dinner tonight. An opportunity for leaders from different political parties to meet and bond, informally. Much political talk but much more important — tremendous positive energy, warmth and genuine affection,” Rahul tweeted.
“The interaction was informal but marked the foundation of future politics,” RSP MP N K Premachandran said.
The dinner followed four different appeals from Congress in recent weeks that the opposition parties join hands to defeat the BJP at the Centre.
While Sonia issued the first plea in the meeting of opposition parties on February 1, Rahul took the cue to argue that state-level rivalries could be resolved for the larger battle against BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A week later, Sonia told a meeting of Congress MPs that as the head of Congress Parliamentary Party, she would work to bring about a partnership of like-minded parties.
Last week, she underscored the need for the opposition to join hands against “communal forces” at a media event.
With all eyes on 10, Janpath lawns, participants said there was no structured discussion but only informal chats about politics on different tables involving leaders across party lines.
S C Mishra of BSP shared the table with Ramgopal Yadav of SP, reflecting the recently hammered alliance between the erstwhile rivals in Uttar Pradesh.
Omar Abdullah of National Conference, Kanimozhi, Lalu Prasad’s children Tejaswi Yadav and Misa Bharti, Hemant Soren of JMM, Badruddin Ajmal of AIUDF, Mohd Salim of CPM, D Raja of CPI and Ajit Singh of RLD were also present.