Eyeing 2019: Sonia Gandhi meets opposition leaders over dinner, Congress says 'no politics, just friendship'

Sonia Gandhi has called for Opposition unity and has said that parties should set aside their minor differences to get together.

Eyeing 2019: Sonia Gandhi meets opposition leaders over dinner, Congress says 'no politics, just friendship'

New Delhi: UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday hosted a dinner for Opposition leaders, amid talk of forging a broader front against the BJP-led NDA ahead of the 2019 General Elections.

Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Samajwadi Party's Ramgopal Yadav, BSP's Satish Mishra, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha's Babulal Marandi, DMK's Kanimozhi, Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh, AIUDF's Badruddin Ajmal, RJD's Tejashwi Yadav, Hindustani Awam Morcha's Jitan Ram Manjhi, Communist Party of India's D Raja and National Conference's Omar Abdullah were among those who attended the dinner hosted at 10, Janpath.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi and other senior party leaders like Manmohan Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge were also present on the occasion.

Commenting on it, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, "Dinner hosted by Sonia ji for Opposition parties should not be seen from the prism of politics, it was for friendship and better dialogue between parties."

On the other hand, Rahul said, "Fabulous dinner... an opportunity for leaders from different political parties to meet and bond, informally... tremendous positive energy, warmth and genuine affection."

Manjhi recently quit the NDA and joined forces with Lalu Prasad's RJD, which is an ally of the Congress.

Sonia had invited DMK working president MK Stalin for dinner, but a party leader had earlier said that he would not be able to attend as the Assembly session in Tamil Nadu was beginning from March 15.

"Yes, he (Stalin) has been invited, but since the assembly session in Tamil Nadu is starting March 15, he may not be able to come. Kanimozhi will be attending the dinner," TKS Elangovan had told IANS.

And RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav is currently lodged in a jail in Ranchi in connection with two fodder scam cases.

Sonia has called for Opposition unity and has said that 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 is difficult for all the parties, including the Congress, because while we can get together at the national level, on some issues we are opponents at the ground level. So, there is a lot of pressure from all the parties, from my party, from the party of another leader. For instance, in West Bengal and many other states, it is a difficult task," she had on March 9, 2018, at an event in the national capital.

"But if all of us think of the larger picture, if we really think and care for the country, then we should not think about local differences which really deal with state politics," Sonia had added.

"We try to have regular meetings with like-minded parties to see if we can work together. We have worked together in the past. In Parliament, especially in the Rajya Sabha, there is a certain amount of coordination. I do that," she had further said.

At the same time, Sonia, 71, had alleged that the country was being led by "regressive vision" and had asked if India was really a "giant black hole" before May 2014 and had marched to progress only after BJP came to power at the Centre, PTI reported.

She had also alleged that the country, the society and its freedom are now all under systematic and sustained threat and that there was "rewriting of history, falsifying facts and fanning prejudice and bigotry".

"'Acche Din' will soon be 'India Shining'," she had said in reference to UPA's win despite BJP's 2004 slogan of 'India Shining'.

(With Agency inputs)

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