TWENTY prominent Opposition leaders on Tuesday attended the dinner hosted by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi at her 10 Jan Path resident, close to the headquarters of The AICC, the country’s oldest political party. Bengal Chief Minister and supremo ruling TMC Mamata Banerjee, who is endeavouring to float a third front minus the Congress and the BJP, was not personally present despite being invited by Sonia Gandhi. But she deputed senior Parliamentarian Sudip Bandyapadhaya to represent the TMC. The get-together has ignited speculation on formation of a united front to take on Narendra Modi led NDA in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Sonia Gandhi is making efforts to forge opposition unity to defeat the BJP-led NDA.Besides, NCP founder and chief Sharad Pawar, leader from RJD, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, DMK and Left parties attended the dinner. Other prominent among leaders who attended the dinner were SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav, BSP’s Satish Chandra Misra, close to Mayawati, and former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah, Babulal Marandi, Hemant Soren and Jiten Ram Manjhi, former Union Ministers Sharad Yadav and RLD’s Ajit Singh.The RJD was represented by both two children of jailed party chief Lalu Prasad .They were former Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav and Misa Bharti, Rajya Sabha Member who along with her spouse is under scanner of Enforcement Directorate .CPI leader D Raja, MP, and Mohammad Salim,Politburo Member of CPI-M and Lok Sabha Member, DMK’s Kanimozhi, AIUDF’s Baddrauddin Ajmal and leaders of Kerala Congress, besides Kupender Reddy of the JD-S were also were in attendance .The 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. Andhra Pradesh’s ruling Telugu Desam Party, which recently pulled out its ministers in the Modi government but continues to be a constituent of the NDA, the BJD, and the TRS, ruling party of Telengana were not invited. The BJD and the TRS rule Odisha and Telangana, respectively. Telengana Chief Minister K Chandra Shekhar Rao has gone record that he is for a third front minus Congress and the BJP.AICC Communications in- charge Randeep Surjewala said the dinner was not organised for politics, but for amity and friendship among opposition parties.As the government was not allowing Parliament to function, it was obvious that leaders of various parties, who wanted to raise issues in national interest, would get together to discuss the current political situation, he added.”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. Opposition leaders got together to discuss issues in national interest, create bonhomie in the opposition and exchange views, he added.
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