Eye on 2019 polls, Sonia Gandhi invites opposition leaders for dinner on March 13

A proposal was recently given by TRS chief and Telangana CM K Chandrashekhar Rao for a national consultation process for a 'non-BJP, non-Congress' front.

Eye on 2019 polls, Sonia Gandhi invites opposition leaders for dinner on March 13
File photo (PTI)

New Delhi: Congress leader Sonia Gandhi has invited leaders of all Opposition parties for dinner on March 13.

The initiative is a step towards strengthening the Opposition and laying the foundation for a united front in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, a party insider was quoted as saying by the PTI

"It would not only be a dinner, but also showcase the strength of Opposition parties who would like to come together to form a front against the misrule of BJP," a senior leader said.

The news agency further quoted the Congress insider as saying that several leaders have confirmed their attendance. But he did not go into the specifics. However, he said that the former Congress president was keen to have all top Opposition party leaders, including Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who is yet to confirm.

The second half of the Budget Session has been witnessing protests by Opposition parties, which have also held demonstrations outside the House and inside.

There is "good coordination" between TRS, TDP, SP, BSP, TMC, Left, DMK and all Opposition parties in Parliament on various issues, TMC leader Derek O'Brien said on Tuesday.

Sonia's invitation comes at a time when talk of a 'non-BJP, non-Congress' front is doing the rounds following a proposal by TRS chief and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao for a national consultation process on the matter. 

The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) leader has said he was keen to engage himself in national politics to bring about a "qualitative change" and was in talks with others to form a platform of like-minded parties.

Several leaders, including Mamata Banerjee, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi and former Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), have extended support to Rao's proposal, according to the TRS.

Meanwhile, the BJP on Tuesday said that Rao's efforts to forge a 'non-Congress, non-BJP' front is a "knee-jerk" reaction to poll results in the three Northeastern states and will not pose a political challenge to the party or the NDA.

BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said his party getting a "massive mandate" in Tripura and forming the government there and in Meghalaya and Nagaland, has created a panic in many political parties about the BJP's continued growth.

"The BJP has expanded from five states in power in 2014 to 21 states now, this continued journey is likely to gobble up or is likely to threaten their (many other parties') own existence. So, it's more like a panic-stricken party's call for survival rather than posing a political challenge to the BJP or the NDA," he told PTI.

"It's a knee-jerk reaction to the shocking defeat that the Congress has faced and the spectacular victory that the BJP has achieved (in the three NE states)," he claimed.

(With PTI inputs)

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