Uttar Pradesh, Bihar bypoll results show united opposition can defeat BJP: NCP

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Leaders from 19 parties at Sonia Gandhi's dinner, discuss ways to take on Modi regime

Though the Congress termed the dinner as a "non-political" event, it was loaded with political significance as it may set the tone for unity among secular parties to take on the BJP-led NDA in the 2019 general elections.

Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar has chose to attend the dinner being hosted by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday night which will be attended leaders of 17 opposition parties, amid talk of forging a broader front against the BJP-led NDA ahead of the 2019 general elections. The results are a boost to Tejaswi Yadav, younger son of Lalu Prasad, who spearheaded the party campaign in the absence of his father who is in Ranchi jail in connection with fodder scam cases.

The plenary will begin with a meeting of the Congress Working Committee on Friday. "Otherwise, we are for an alliance of all Opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh", said the leader.

Leaders who attended the dinner also included National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, Samajwadi Party's Ram Gopal Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party's Satish Chandra Misra, All India United Democratic Front's Badrauddin Ajmal, Rashtriya Janata Dal's Misa Bharti and Tejashwi Yadav, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha's Hemant Soren, Communist Party of India-Marxist's Mohammad Salim, and Communist Party of India's D. Raja.

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Congress communications incharge Randeep Surjewala said the dinner was not organised for politics, but for amity and friendship among opposition parties. An opportunity for leaders from different political parties to meet and bond, informally.

New Delhi:Sonia Gandhi Congress functionary will host a dinner for opposition.

Rahul Gandhi tweeted after the dinner that there was "much political talk" but also "tremendous positive energy, warmth and genuine affection". "It was a political dinner. It was a show of strength by the non-BJP parties", a Left leader told PTI. "It was a political dinner but there were no political talks". After the next Lok Sabha election, the Congress is expecting a 2004-like situation when the UPA-led by it came to power.

All 17 opposition parties have confirmed their attendance for Sonia's dinner. Instead, it will continue at NCP chief Sharad Pawar's residence at the end of March, senior NCP leaders have said. NCP sources said Rahul had walked an extra mile to meet the NCP leader, as he wanted to hone his skills on coalition politics by gaining some wisdom from one of the oldest and most experienced politicians Pawar.

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The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty's Congress party, which ruled India for most of the seven decades after independence before being thumped by Modi in the last general election 2014, also seized on the latest setbacks for the BJP.

Ms. Mamata Banerjee had taken the lead by reaching out to DMK chief Stalin, Shiv Sena head Uddhav Thackeray and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao. Party MP Sudi Bandopadhyay is likely to attend the meeting as her representative.

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.

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

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