Opposition leaders at Sonia Gandhi’s residence on 13 March. 

Sonia Hosts Dinner With Oppn Leaders, Cong Dubs it ‘Non-Political’

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s dinner with leaders of the Opposition parties, on Tuesday, 13 March, was attended by the likes of Tejashwi Yadav, Sharad Pawar, Omar Abdullah, Kanimozhi and D Raja.

Though the Congress called the dinner a “non-political” event, it was being seen as setting the tone of a united Opposition to take on the BJP-led NDA ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Summary
  • Among the leaders who attended Sonia Gandhi’s dinner were Sharad Yadav, CPI’s D Raja, HAM’s Jitan Ram Manjhi, BSP’s Satish Mishra, JVM’s Babulal Marandi and AIUDF’s Badruddin Ajmal
  • The Congress leaders who were present at the dinner included Rahul Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge, AK Antony and Randeep Surjewala
  • Those who had not been invited were leaders of the TRS, the BJD and the TDP – which recently pulled out its ministers in the Modi government but continues to be a constituent of the NDA

Tejashwi Yadav Calls the Dinner a ‘Step Forward Towards Opposition Unity’

Speaking about the dinner at Sonia Gandhi’s residence, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said there is “no question of a prime ministerial candidate at this stage, but the dinner is definitely a step forward towards opposition unity”.

Dinner Comes to an End, Congress Dubs it a 'Non-Political' Event

The dinner hosted by Sonia Gandhi at her residence has come to an end, with the Congress dubbing it a “non-political” event.

Photos of Sonia Gandhi's Dinner With Leaders of Opposition Parties

Opposition leaders at Sonia Gandhi’s residence for dinner. 
Opposition leaders at Sonia Gandhi’s residence for dinner. 
Rahul Gandhi in conversation at Sonia Gandhi’s residence. 
Rahul Gandhi in conversation at Sonia Gandhi’s residence. 
Manmohan Singh and Kanimozhi along with others at Sonia Gandhi’s residence. 
Manmohan Singh and Kanimozhi along with others at Sonia Gandhi’s residence. 
Sonia Gandhi in conversation at her 10 Janpath residence. 
Sonia Gandhi in conversation at her 10 Janpath residence. 
Rahul Gandhi in conversation at Sonia Gandhi’s residence. 
Rahul Gandhi in conversation at Sonia Gandhi’s residence. 
Rahul Gandhi and Kanimozhi. 
Rahul Gandhi and Kanimozhi. 

'Dinner Should Not be Seen From the Prism of Politics': Surjewala

Talking to the media during the dinner at Sonia Gandhi’s residence, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said:

This dinner hosted by Sonia Gandhi for opposition parties should not be seen from the prism of politics. It was for friendship and better dialogue between parties.
Randeep Surjewala

However, he did go on to add that it would be natural for the opposition leaders, “who are concerned about the nation’s problems”, to have a discussion on national and state-level politics when they meet.

They will have discussions on how certain steps can be taken for the national good. 
Randeep Surjewala

Watch: What is the Significance of Sonia Gandhi’s ‘Dinner Diplomacy’?

Sharad Yadav and Hemant Soren Also Attend Dinner

Sharad Yadav and JMM’s Hemant Soren have arrived at 10, Janpath to attend the dinner hosted by former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

BSP Joins Sonia Gandhi's Dinner Diplomacy

Satish Mishra from Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has also arrived at Sonia Gandhi’s residence to attend the dinner. Till now, the presence of any BSP representative was not confirmed.

Watch: Would the Opposition Leaders Set Aside Their Differences to Join Hands for a Bigger Goal?

Omar Abullah, Sharad Pawar and Jitan Ram Manjhi Arrive at Sonia Gandhi's Residence

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and NCP chief Sharad Pawar have also reached Sonia Gandhi’s residence, along with Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) president Jitan Ram Manjhi.

Manjhi, who left the NDA last month, is important in Bihar from the point of view of Mahadalit votes.

Omar Abdullah arriving at Sonia Gandhi’s residence. 
Omar Abdullah arriving at Sonia Gandhi’s residence. 

DMK leader Kanimozhi is also among the attendees.

Kanimozhi arriving at Sonia Gandhi’s residence. 
Kanimozhi arriving at Sonia Gandhi’s residence. 

Tejashwi Yadav Arrives at 10, Janpath

AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal and RJD Tejashwi Yadav have arrived at 10, Janpath for Sonia Gandhi’s dinner with the leaders of Opposition parties.

Tejashwi Yadav arriving at Sonia Gandhi’s residence. 
Tejashwi Yadav arriving at Sonia Gandhi’s residence. 

Potential Attendees

Former chief ministers of Jharkhand, JVM’s Babulal Marandi and JMM’s Hemant Soren, will attend the dinner, along with former Bihar chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha chief Jitan Ram Manjhi, who recently quit the NDA and joined forces with Lalu Prasad's RJD, sources told PTI.

As per the report, Lalu's son and Leader of Opposition in the Bihar Assembly Tejashwi Yadav is also likely to attend.

TMC’s Sudip Bandyopadhyay, DMK's Kanimozhi, Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav, CPI(M)'s Sitaram Yechury and CPI's D Raja are expected to attend. Leaders of other parties like JD(S), Kerala Congress, Indian Union Muslim League, Revolutionary Socialist Party, and RLD are also likely to attend.

Sources were quoted as saying that while the BSP has been invited, its leader Mayawati may not send a representative as her party has aligned with JD(S) for the Karnataka polls later this year.

Leaders of 17 Oppn Parties Invited

Sonia Gandhi has called for Opposition unity and said parties should set aside their minor differences to get together in the larger interest of keeping the BJP out of power in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

“It will not be merely a dinner, but it will also demonstrate the power of the Opposition parties, who may like to form a morcha united against BJP's misrule,” PTI quoted a Congress source as saying.

As per the report, the BJD and the TRS have not been invited. Leaders of 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, have not been invited either.

TheQuint
Follow All The Political News In India On BloombergQuint