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". "Much political talk but much more important - tremendous positive energy, warmth and genuine affection" said congress president Rahul Gandhi after the dinner. The dinner was attended by leaders of 19 political parties, making it one of the biggest anti-BJP gathering of leaders of the past few months.
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.
Truce eluded the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and a united opposition for the seventh consecutive day of the budget session on Tuesday with virtually no business being conducted in the disruption-hit Houses of Parliament. "This is a part of that effort", said expelled Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav said when asked if there will be a front of opposition parties in 2019.
This can be seen as an attempt to made an anti-BJP alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
"Today, the nation faces many difficulties", Randeep Singh Surjewala, the Congress communications in-charge said, blaming the government for not allowing them to raise the issues such as thousands of crores of rupees being taken out of the country under the government's watch. He also accused the government of running away from debate on key issues such as banking frauds. "There will be unofficial discussion on how to fix accountability of the government", Surjewala said.
Former chief ministers of Jharkhand, Babulal Marandi of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and Hemant Soren of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha 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. "Fabulous dinner tonight hosted by UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi Ji".
Sonia Gandhi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ahmed Patel, AK Antony and Randeep Surjewala were among the Congress leaders present. Seventeen opposition parties had come together against the BJP-led NDA during the presidential and vice-presidential elections past year and Sonia Gandhi has been holding occasional meetings to nurture the bonding.
The Bahujan Samaj Party's senior leader Satish Chandra Misra was also present at the dinner.
Even though Banerjee had been advocating a non-BJP non-Congress front, Pawar has invited the Congress as well, NCP sources said.