Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Sharad Pawar to host oppn meet by end of March: NCP

Sharad Pawar to host oppn meet by end of March: NCP

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.

Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav said the effort to unite the opposition was underway.

According to The Quint, prominent members of the Congress including party president Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge and A.K. Antony were seen in conversation with leaders from other opposition parties during the dinner. "An opportunity for leaders from different political parties to meet and bond, informally", Rahul Gandhi tweeted after the dinner.

Much political talk but much more important - tremendous positive energy, warmth and genuine affection.

According to The Times of India, leaders from the Janata Dal (Secular), Kerala Congress, Indian Union Muslim League, Revolutionary Socialist Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal were also present. However, all three were represented by senior party leaders.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi later said there was "much political talk" during the dinner meeting. Congress is of the opinion that where the government builds walls, we will build harmony and ways of walking together.

Though the Congress party saying that the dinner should not be looked through a prism of politics, it could be guessed that inviting opposition party leaders for dinner is a first step forward towards building a united opposition to break the winning streak of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

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In Parliament, the immediate casualty of the deadlock was the Finance Bill, 2018 which was listed for consideration and passage on Tuesday.

The party might have managed to get all the invitees to attend the event but some of its "old friends" from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were conspicuous by their absence.

The interaction is the second during parliament's budget session that has seen a united opposition disrupting proceedings non-stop for a week. The Congress is not letting Parliament function.

Though the Congress insisted the event was "apolitical" and merely "informal" with "friends", Sonia, who had been anxious with recent reports of fissures in the Opposition, chose to take the opportunity to iron out rough edges.

The government has no plans to curtail the ongoing Budget Session, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said here on Tuesday even as he launched a strident attack on the Congress for disruptions in both the Houses of Parliament.

Mr Kumar added that Congress president Rahul Gandhi went overseas because he could not face defeat in the elections.

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