Former Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is hosting a dinner for Opposition leaders tonight at her residence 10 Janpath. It has been learnt the dinner will be attended by 17 opposition parties’ leaders. This dinner comes at a time when Congress is increasingly losing foothold in the country to BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah and opposition parties are getting desperate to prevent saffron party’s win in 2019.
There has been a growing chorus among opposition parties for a collaboration among them to counter the saffron party. More so after BJP got a historic mandate in recently-concluded Tripura assembly polls. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, during an interaction, categorically said she had proposed to Congress President Rahul Gandhi that Tripura election must be fought together.
Last year, RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav had made an effort to bring opposition leaders to one platform by a holding a rally in iconic Gandhi Maidan, Patna. Even in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls, traditional rivals Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have joined hands.
BJP will keenly follow the meeting, especially in the wake of resignation two Union Ministers from Telugu Desham Party (TDP). Though TDP is still very much part of National Democratic Alliance (NDA), there are a few areas of concern for BJP. Shiv Sena has time to time voiced opposition to PM Modi and BJP over an array of issues. Yesterday, Sena leaders had backed farmers protesting in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
In the dinner meet today, talks about stitching an alliance against the BJP-led NDA ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls are likely to take place. Lalu Prasad Yadav’s son and Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly Tejashwi Yadav is also likely to attend. Former chief ministers of Jharkhand Babulal Marandi of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and Hemant Soren (JMM) will attend the dinner, along with former Bihar CM and Hindustani Awam Morcha chief Jitan Ram Manjhi, who recently quit the NDA and joined forces with Lalu Prasad’s RJD, which is an ally of the Congress. CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury and CPI’s D Raja, DMK’s Kanimozhi and SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav will also be present. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will not attend the meet but send senior party leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay.
Sonia Gandhi had earlier 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. According to reports, the process of uniting the opposition parties will continue as NCP chief Sharad Pawar will hold a similar meet at the end of March. It will be interesting to see what transpires and whether opposition parties would be able to send a strong message to BJP or not.