File image of Sonia Gandhi Photograph:( Zee News Network )
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi will host a dinner tomorrow which is likely to be attended by leaders of 17 opposition parties, amid talk of forging a broader front against the BJP-led NDA ahead of the 2019 general elections.
According to Congress sources, leaders of Andhra Pradesh's ruling Telugu Desam Party, which recently pulled out its ministers in the Modi government but continues to be a constituent of the NDA, BJD, and the TRS have not been invited. The BJD and TRS rule Odisha and Telangana respectively.
They said former chief ministers of Jharkhand Babulal Marandi of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and Hemant Soren (JMM) will attend the dinner, along with former Bihar chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha chief Jitan Ram Manjhi, who recently quit the NDA and joined forces with Lalu Prasad's RJD, which is an ally of the Congress.
Lalu's son and Leader of Opposition in the Bihar Assembly Tejashwi Yadav is also likely to attend, but there was no immediate confirmation.
Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay, DMK's Kanimozhi and Ram Gopal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party are likely to be present, and so would be leaders of left parties - CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury and CPI's D Raja. Leaders of other parties like JD-S and Kerala Congress, Indian Union Muslim League, Revolutionary Socialist Party and RLD are also likely to attend.
Sources said while BSP has been invited, its leader Mayawati may not send a representative as her party has aligned with JD-S for the Karnataka polls likely in April/March this year.
The dinner being hosted at the 10, Janpath residence of Sonia Gandhi, is expected to set the tone for opposition unity in the run up to the next general elections.
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.