New Delhi, March 13 (IANS) Reflecting a possible line-up against BJP, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Trinamool Congress' Sudip Bandyopadhyay and DMK's Kanimozhi were among the leaders of 19 parties who attended a dinner hosted by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi at her residence on Tuesday.
Considerable significance is being attached to the dinner in the midst of speculation about the political realignment that could take place ahead of next year's Lok Sabha elections.
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.
IUML's P. K. Kunhalikutty, Kerala Congress-Mani' Jose K. Mani, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik's Babulal Marandi, Revolutionary Socialist Party's N. K. Premachandran, veteran socialist leader Sharad Yadav, Rashtriya Lok Dal's Ajit Singh and Janata Dal-Secular's Kupendra Reddy were also present as was Hindustan Awam Morcha leader Jiten Ram Majhi, who had quit the NDA last month.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and party leaders Ahmed Patel, A.K. Antony, and Randeep Singh Surjewala were among those present.
Sonia Gandhi took the lead for the get together even after Rahul Gandhi has taken over as the Congress President in December last year with the feeling in the Opposition that senior leaders would show deference to her more than to her son.
This dinner is also significant in the context of moves by regional parties like the Telangana Rashtra Samiti and the Telugu Desam Party which have attacked BJP in the recent past and are said to be jockeying for a third front of parties against the BJP and Congress.