'Positive energy, genuine affection': Rahul Gandhi says Sonia's dinner meet an 'opportunity'

The Biju Janata Dal was also not represented.

Representing Congress - apart from Sonia herself - would be party President Rahul Gandhi, Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Janardan Dwivedi and Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Lalu's son and Leader of Opposition in the Bihar Assembly Tejashwi Yadav is also likely to attend the dinner but there was no confirmation.

Among those who attended were the Nationalist Congress Party's Sharad Power, Omar Abdullah of the National Conference, the Janata Dal United's Sharad Yadav, forMER Bihari chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi (who recently exited the NDA camp to join Bihar's mahagathbandhan), Satish Mishra of the Bahujan Samaj Party, Babulal Marandi of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and Badruddin Ajmal of the All India United Democratic Front.

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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.

After the dinner meeting, Congress President, Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said that there was positive energy and genuine affection during dinner.

With her dinner diplomacy, Sonia hopes to strengthen ties between existing allies in the UPA while scouting for new ones; an effort that is touted as the first real step towards unifying the Opposition.

He claimed at a time when the government was not allowing Parliament to function, it was obvious that leaders of various parties, who wanted to raise issues in national interest, would get together to discuss the current political situation.

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Left and TMC leaders present at the dinner said that it was certainly a "political dinner without political talks". But there were no political talks.

"This dinner shows no confidence on Rahul Gandhi showing that the Congress president still needs to latch on to his mother", BJP spokesman GVL Narsimha Rao told India Today TV. Sonia Gandhi asked me why Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal Chief Minister) didn't come. It could not be taken up amid objections raised by opposition parties who have written to Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan requesting her intervention.

All 17 opposition parties have confirmed their attendance for Sonia's dinner. Instead, it will continue at NCP chief Sharad Pawar's residence at the end of March, senior NCP leaders have said.

Besides, the Congress' poor performance, particularly in Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha constituencies, is expected to cast a shadow on its attempts to forge opposition unity ahead of the 2019 general elections.

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  • Ryan Wade