20 opposition parties attend Sonia Gandhi dinner

Erika Holt
March 14, 2018

The effort is going on.

Asked about government's plans to deal with disruptions by friendly political parties such as the TDP, AIADMK and the TRS, Kumar said they would withdraw their protests if they get to participate in the debate on the general budget.

"You can also see NDA allies are also angry".

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.

Briefing reporters on the BJP parliamentary party meeting, which was also attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its president Amit Shah, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the government has been talking to different parties to break the deadlock in Parliament and targeted the Congress.

"Today, the nation faces many difficulties", Randeep Singh Surjewala, the Congress communications in-charge said, blaming the government for not allowing them to raise the issues such as thousands of crores of rupees being taken out of the country under the government's watch.

He said opposition leaders got together to discuss issues in the national interest, create bonhomie in the opposition and exchange views. "There will be unofficial discussion on how to fix accountability of the government", Surjewala said.

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Apart from NCP, SP and BSP leaders, Rashtriya Janata Dal's (RJD) Tejashwi Yadav, Hindustani Awam Morcha's (HAM) Jitan Ram Manjhi, National Conference's (NC) Omar Abdullah, JVM's Babulal Marandi, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)'s Kanimozhi and All India United Democratic Front's (AIUDF) Badruddin Ajmal also attended the dinner hosted by Sonia Gandhi.

Later in the day, former Congress president Sonia Gandhi hosted a dinner meeting for opposition parties at her official residence to strengthen its strategy against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led ruling alliance. He also accused the government of running away from debate on key issues such as banking frauds.

Kumar cited BJP's alliance with local parties in northeast states to claim that the NDA is becoming "NDA plus".

The Bahujan Samaj Party's senior leader Satish Chandra Misra was also present at the dinner.

This dinner is also significant in the context of moves by regional parties like the Telanagana Rashtra Samiti and the Telugu Desam Party which have attacked BJP in the recent past and are said to be jockeying for a third front of parties against the BJP and Congress.

It is also noteworthy that Sonia Gandhi took the lead for the get together of the leaders even after Rahul Gandhi has taken over as the Congress President in December past year with the feeling in the Opposition that senior leaders would show deference to her more than to her son.

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