NEW DELHI Mar 14: Leaders of 20 opposition parties tonight got together at a dinner hosted by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi + to explore the possibility of forging a broader unity among secular parties ahead of the 2019 general elections, an event the Congress said was meant to promote “amity and friendship”. According to sources, leaders of NCP, RJD, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Trinamool Congress, DMK and Left parties attended the dinner among others.
Prominent leaders in attendance were NCP’s Sharad Pawar, SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav, BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra and former chief ministers Omar Abdullah, Babulal Marandi, Hemant Soren and Jitan Ram Manjhi, besides JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav and RLD’s Ajit Singh.
The RJD was represented by two children of party chief Lalu Prasad — former deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav and Misa Bharti, a Rajya Sabha MP.
The others present included TMC’s Sudip Bandyopadhyay, CPI-M’s D Raja and Mohammad Salim, DMK’s Kanimozhi, AIUDF’s Badruddin Ajmal and leaders of Kerala Congress, besides Kupender Reddy of the JD(S).
Sonia Gandhi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ahmed Patel, AK Antony and Randeep Surjewala were among the Congress leaders present.
According to sources, leaders of Andhra Pradesh’s ruling Telugu Desam Party, which recently pulled out its ministers in the Modi government but continues to be a constituent of the NDA, the BJD, and the TRS were not invited. The BJD and the TRS rule Odisha and Telangana respectively.