UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi hosts dinner today; TDP, BJD, TRS not invited

Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi

United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi will host a dinner on Tuesday which is likely to be attended by leaders of 17 opposition parties, amid talk of forging a broader front against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) ahead of the 2019 general elections. However, West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee is "pre-occupied" and won't attend the Congress's dinner. Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay, DMKs Kanimozhi and Ram Gopal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party are likely to be present, and so would be leaders of left parties - CPI-Ms Sitaram Yechury and CPIs D Raja.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati has been invited, but is unlikely to attend or even send a representative.

Sources said contrary to some reports, Andhra Pradesh's Telugu Desam Party, which recently pulled out its ministers from PM Modi's government but remains a part of the ruling alliance NDA, has not been invited.

Mamata Banerjee greeted Mr Rai's suggestion with much enthusiasm, declaring her complete support and saying, "I will work with you".

Mr Soren is expected to attend today's dinner as is Babulal Marandi of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha. A united opposition has disrupted parliament for over a week now, ever since it convened for the rest of the budget session after a recess.

While Banerjee was one of the first movers of opposition unity against the ruling BJP, her enthusiasm to be part of it slowed down following Rahul Gandhi taking over as Congress president from his mother Sonia Gandhi and Congress chose to move alone is state elections where the party was pitted directly against BJP, even as Banerjee had suggested that the opposition parties should walk together and campaign together in a show of solidarity whether in Gujarat or Tripura. Sonia Gandhi stepped down as Congress president last year after an uninterrupted run of 19 years. Her son Rahul Gandhi is now Congress president.

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