ELEPHANT LIFTS CYCLE
Shocking by-poll results & Sonia’s dinner diplomacy
- Team PT
Shocking by-poll results & Sonia’s dinner diplomacy



20 Opposition parties attend hoping ‘Achhe Din Aayenge!’
 
AN EXCITED OPPOSITION today watched with glee as voters kicked BJP in the shins, toppling it from what Team Amit Shah saw as its eternal winning pedestal. The ruling party lost all 3 Lok Sabha bypolls in Gorakhpur and Phulpur in UP and Araria in Bihar. 

In a piercing tweet, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee declared: "The beginning of the end has started."

But more than some well deserved punches, the BJP's worries came from what brought about its fall in the very state that brought Narendra Modi to power -- the coming together of two staunch rivals, SP and BSP.

The elephant cycled it to glory, and the lotus withered, but it is the dinner that Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi hosted last night where they chewed plans about the larger opposition unity. 

Though the sceptics will continue to ask for some more time who will be the leader of the opposition, Sonia Gandhi's efforts and the SP-BSP tie up have scared the wits out of the saffron camp.

'Mission 2019' now seems all the more near as leaders of 20 Opposition parties discussed ways to halt the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah electoral juggernaut, the key winning machine of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). 

Among those who attended the dinner were leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Trinamool Congress, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), and the Left parties. 
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The elephant cycled it to glory, and the lotus withered, but it is the dinner that Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi hosted last night where they chewed plans about the larger opposition unity. 
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The dinner took place against the backdrop of a standoff between the government and the Opposition in Parliament, which has seen continuous disruptions since the start of the second half of the Budget session on March 5.

How fruitful was the dinner diplomacy? At least according to Rahul Gandhi, the meeting was "fabulous". The Congress president said there was "much political talk" during the meeting, adding that the leaders reflected tremendous positive energy, warmth, and genuine affection.

However, according to a Business Standard report, not all of the country's political players were present at the dinner meeting. The Aam Aadmi Party, the YSR Congress Party, and Telangana Rashtra Samiti were not invited. The Biju Janata Dal was also not represented. The TRS was an ally of the Congress in 2004 and is now its rival and the ruling party in Telangana.

Besides Rahul Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, were among those present. Party leaders Ahmed Patel and A K Antony also attended the dinner.

Here are some highlights regarding Sonia Gandhi's dinner diplomacy:

By hosting Tuesday's dinner, Sonia Gandhi indicated that she, not Congress President Rahul Gandhi, would lead the effort to build a broad unity of 'like-minded parties' to take on Narendra Modi and the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

The 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 Rashtriya Lok Dal's (RLD's) Ajit Singh.

The RJD was represented by party chief Lalu Prasad's two children -- former deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav and Rajya Sabha MP Misa Bharti.

Leaders from the Left, South and Bengal also attended. It wasn't just leaders from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh who were in attendance. The other leaders present at the dinner included All India Trinamool Congress' (TMC's) Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Communist Party of India-Marxist's (CPI-M's) D Raja and Mohammad Salim, DMK's Kanimozhi, All India United Democratic Front's (AIUDF's) Baddrauddin Ajmal and leaders of Kerala Congress, besides Kupender Reddy of the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S).
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Though the sceptics will continue to ask for some more time who will be the leader of the opposition, Sonia Gandhi's efforts and the SP-BSP tie up have scared the wits out of the saffron camp.
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Later, Tejashwi Yadav and Sharad Yadav told news agencies that Sonia Gandhi's dinner meeting was the first step towards a comprehensive alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. However, when he was asked if there was a consensus on Rahul Gandhi's leadership of the probable Opposition alliance, Tejashwi said, "The time has not yet come to decide on the prime ministerial candidate."

Referring to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) pulling out of the Modi government, Tejashwi said that Opposition parties were getting together while the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was "breaking apart".

After the dinner meeting, Congress President, Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said that there was positive energy and genuine affection during dinner. Rahul took to Twitter and wrote: "Fabulous dinner tonight, hosted by UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi Ji.

An opportunity for leaders from different political parties to meet and bond, informally. Much political talk but much more important - tremendous positive energy, warmth and genuine affection."

Left and TMC leaders present at the dinner said that it was certainly a "political dinner without political talks". "It was a political dinner. But there were no political talks. It was a show of strength by the non-BJP parties," a Left leader told news agencies. "It was a political dinner but there were no political talks. Sonia Gandhi asked me why Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal Chief Minister) didn't come. I told her it was because of her prior commitments," said TMC leader in the Lok Sabha Sudip Bandyopadhyay.

The show of Opposition unity will not stop at Sonia Gandhi's dinner. Instead, it will continue at NCP chief Sharad Pawar's residence at the end of March, senior NCP leaders have said. Top NCP sources have said that Pawar has called a meet of all Opposition leaders, including the Congress, to discuss a strategy for the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

NCP leader Praful Patel has already met Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata and invited her to attend the meet. After the meeting with Banerjee last week, Patel had told reporters that the idea of having a federal front in the future was discussed between them.

According to TMC sources, Banerjee, who was not able to attend Gandhi's dinner due to prior commitments, has confirmed her attendance at Pawar's meeting.

Sonia Gandhi's dinner diplomacy was reminiscent of the lunch she had hosted for Opposition leaders on February 5, 2004, after the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had cut short the duration of that Lok Sabha and had announced early elections.

In the meantime, Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday hailed SP-BSP alliance for win in UP Assembly by polls. She tweeted, ‘Great victory. Congratulations to Mayawati Ji and @yadavakhilesh Ji for #UPByPolls The beginning of the end has started’

So it seems opposition parties already feeling a euphoria and hoping that now ‘Acchhe Din” will be theirs soon.
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

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