Leaders of 20 opposition parties tonight got together at a dinner hosted by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, where possibilities of putting up a united front to defeat the BJP in the next general elections were discussed.
Samajwadi Party's Ramgopal Yadav, BSP's Satish Mishra, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha's Babulal Marandi, Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh, AIUDF's Badruddin Ajmal and Communist Party of India's D Raja were also among those who attended the dinner hosted at 10, Janpath.
The RJD was represented by both children of party chief Lalu Prasad - former deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav and Misa Bharti. "Much political talk but much more important - tremendous positive energy, warmth and genuine affection" said congress president Rahul Gandhi after the dinner.
Reflecting the possible line-up against the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Trinamool Congress' Sudip Bandyopadhyay and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's Kanimozhi were among 19 party leaders who attended a dinner hosted by United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi at her residence March 13.
TRS chief and Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao also spoke enthusiastically about a federal front.
Some leaders later said the dinner was part of effort to forge a united front to take on the BJP in the Lok Sabha battle next year, noting that regional rivals were coming together. "This was meant to strengthen dialogue between the friendly parties". Sonia Gandhi had earlier called for Opposition unity, saying parties should set aside their minor differences to get together in the larger interest of keeping the BJP out of power.
Tejashwi Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal appeared to agree, contrasting the incremental improvement in the opposition ranks with the Telugu Desam Party pulling out its ministers from PM Narendra Modi's team.
He said opposition leaders got together to discuss issues in national interest, create bonhomie in the opposition and exchange views. Seventeen opposition parties had come together against the BJP-led NDA during the presidential and vice-presidential elections previous year and Sonia Gandhi has been holding occasional meetings to nurture the bonding. He also accused the government of running away from debate on key issues such as banking frauds.
Left and TMC leaders who were present said it was certainly a "political dinner without political talks".
At a parliamentary party meeting of the BJP on Tuesday, senior leaders blamed Congress party for not allowing discussion and debate in the House.