Tremendous positive energy, warmth & genuine affection at Sonia Gandhi dinner: Rahul

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said that the dinner hosted by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi was an opportunity for leaders.

Notable guests to the dinner were Omar Abdullah, Sharad Pawar, Tejashwi Yadav, Kanimozhi, D Raja (CPI), Satish Mishra of BSP, Sudip Bandhopadhyay of Trinamool Congress and Ram Gopal Yadav of SP.

Congress party former chief Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday hosted dinner for leaders from the opposition parties.

"This dinner hosted by Mrs Sonia Gandhi for opposition parties should not be seen from the prism of politics".

Leaders of other parties like JD-S and Kerala Congress, Indian Union Muslim League, Revolutionary Socialist Party and RLD are also likely to attend. He had earlier said, "Will not be able to attend the dinner as the Assembly session in Tamil Nadu was beginning from March 15".

Sonia Gandhi has called for opposition unity and 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. "Much political talk but much more important - tremendous positive energy, warmth and genuine affection", Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

Sources in the SP and BSP, however, maintained that the dinner meet can not be seen as an attempt to forge an alliance and that "regional parties" will continue to have an "inevitable greater control in state politics".

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The RJD was represented by the son and daughter of party chief Lalu Prasad Yadav- former deputy.

Left and TMC leaders who were present said it was certainly a "political dinner without political talks". It could not be taken up amid objections raised by opposition parties who have written to Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan requesting her intervention.

Asked about government's plans to deal with disruptions by friendly political parties such as the TDP, AIADMK and the TRS, Kumar said they would withdraw their protests if they get to participate in the debate on the general budget.

He accused the government of running away from debates on the Rs. 12,600 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case and failing to tackle unemployment and difficulties faced by farmers.

The visit by the three UP leaders comes at a time when Rajya Sabha elections to 10 seats have turned into a big controversy after BJP hinted at disallowing BSP to elect their parliamentarian with support from both SP's 10 extra MLAs and Congress's seven MLAs.

"Congress continues to have a repressive mindset toward democracy". The Congress is not letting Parliament function. But we did not sent our leader to enter into any discussion with Congress over pre-poll arrangement, either for Lok Sabha or otherwise.

PTI contributed to the story.