March 19, 2018

Positive energy, genuine affection in Sonia's dinner: AICC President Rahul

14 March 2018, 09:47 | Devin Moran

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. PTI file

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. PTI file

Clarifying to media that dinner with opposition leaders should not be seen from a political angle, Congress party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, "This dinner hosted by Sonia Gandhi ji for opposition parties should not be seen from the prism of politics, it was for friendship and better dialogue between parties".

The prominent leaders in attendance were NCPs Sharad Pawar, SPs Ram Gopal Yadav, BSPs Satish Chandra Misra and former chief ministers Omar Abdullah, Babulal Marandi, Hemant Soren and Jiten Ram Manjhi, besides JD (U) s Sharad Yadav and RLDs Ajit Singh.

According to top NCP sources, Sharad Pawar has called a meet of all opposition leaders, including the Congress, to discuss a strategy for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The dinner was attended by leaders of 19 political parties, making it one of the biggest anti-BJP gathering of leaders of the past few months.

Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav said the the effort is on to get the opposition united. "Much political talk but much more important - tremendous positive energy, warmth and genuine affection", Rahul Gandhi tweeted later.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said there were positive energy and genuine affection during dinner hosted by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Those conspicuous by their absence included Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal C M Mamata Banerjee and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav.

Besides Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and party leaders Ahmed Patel, and A.K. Antony were among those present.

Asking all parties to let the house function, Mr Kumar said the government wants to have "meaningful discussions".

Congress communications chief Randeep Surjewala echoed the sentiment. Sonia has consistently been pushing for broader Opposition unity, urging political parties to set aside their local differences and get together in the larger national interest to keep the BJP out of power in 2019.

He claimed that the Congress was running away from a debate on the PNB scam as it "feared" that many skeletons in its cupboard will tumble out if a debate took place. "It was a show of strength by the non-BJP parties", a Left leader told PTI.

The Centre wants the ongoing Budget Session to run its full course till April 6 and transact maximum business, parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar said on Tuesday, aiming to put an end to speculations that the session which has failed to transact any business in its second leg, may be curtailed.

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