Sharad Pawar to host oppn meet by end of March: NCP

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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. Rahul Gandhi, the Congress president called the dinner "an opportunity" for leaders to "meet and bond".

The prominent leaders in attendance were Nationalist Congress Party's Sharad Pawar, former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Babulal Marandi, besides RLD's Ajit Singh.

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.

Though the Congress party saying that the dinner should not be looked through a prism of politics, it could be guessed that inviting opposition party leaders for dinner is a first step forward towards building a united opposition to break the winning streak of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Those leaders attended the dinner include Sharad Pawar of NCP, Ram Gopal Yadav of Samajwadi Party, D Raja of CPI, Mohd.

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TRS chief and Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao also spoke enthusiastically about a federal front.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said there were positive energy and genuine affection during dinner hosted by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi. The dinner was hosted at Sonia Gandhi's 10, Janpath residence where the leaders discussed the possibility of opposition parties getting together on one platform to defeat the BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, sources said. "It was for friendship and better dialogue between parties:", he said. Sonia has consistently been pushing for broader Opposition unity, urging political parties to set aside their local differences and get together in the larger national interest to keep the BJP out of power in 2019.

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.

Congress communications chief Randeep Surjewala echoed the sentiment. "When the government does not have interest to run Parliament, then it is natural that leaders of opposition parties, who are concerned about the problems faced by the people, will discuss the country's politics".

The tussle started on the issue of the public sector bank frauds when the second half of budget session began on 5 March.

The Bahujan Samaj Party, which has skipped Opposition meetings in the past, was represented by senior leader Satish Chandra Misra. "It was a show of strength by the non-BJP parties", a Left leader told PTI.

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