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

Congress President Rahul Gandhi

Congress President Rahul Gandhi

Sonia Gandhi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ahmed Patel, AK Antony and Randeep Surjewala were among the Congress leaders present. The dinner meet also saw other Yadav clan members like Rashtriya Janata Dal's Tejaswi Yadav and his sister Misa Bharti attend the event.

Leaders of 19 parties made it to the dinner hosted by Sonia Gandhi that was seen to be aimed at consolidating opposition unity in parliament and beyond, particularly the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Prominent leaders in attendance were NCP's Sharad Pawar, SP's Ram Gopal Yadav, BSP's Satish Chandra Mishra and former chief ministers Omar Abdullah, Babulal Marandi, Hemant Soren and Jitan Ram Manjhi, besides JD (U)'s Sharad Yadav and RLD's Ajit Singh. "Fabulous dinner tonight hosted by UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi Ji". KCR was seen emerging in South India after he announced to initiate a collaboration of local parties against both national parties - Congress and BJP. "An opportunity for leaders from different political parties to meet and bond, informally", Rahul Gandhi tweeted after the dinner.

With the collaboration of all these parties, Congress is wanting to make a comeback in national politics and this is the first diplomatic step towards it. It could not be taken up amid objections raised by opposition parties who have written to Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan requesting her intervention.

While the NDA was "breaking apart", opposition parties were getting together, he said apparently hinting at TDP pulling out of the Modi government.

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He accused the government of running away from debates on the Rs. 12,600 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case and failing to tackle unemployment and difficulties faced by farmers.

Even though Banerjee had been advocating a non-BJP non-Congress front, Pawar has invited the Congress as well, NCP sources said. "It was a show of strength by the non-BJP parties", a Left leader told PTI.

"It continues to have a similar repressive mindset toward democracy".

He also labelled the Congress a "falling, failing and faltering organisation" and attacked it for not following parliamentary traditions and using Parliament as a mere platform to give speeches. "This is our duty to let it work and the government has been doing everything to ensure that it happens", said Ananth Kumar, parliamentary affairs minister.

Mr Kumar added that Congress president Rahul Gandhi went overseas because he could not face defeat in the elections. Some leaders later said that the dinner was part of effort to forge a front against the BJP in the Lok Sabha battle next year and regional rivals were coming together. "If we were not interested in discussions, we would not have given adjournment motions".

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