Congress leader Kapil Sibal yesterday hosted top leaders of almost all opposition parties over dinner at his residence – Eight, Teen Murti Lane. While the official line has been that Opposition unity was the sole item on agenda, it strangely coincided with one year of the G-23 leaders of the Congress going public with their concerns over the leadership and their demands to settle the state of affairs within the grand old party.
Other leaders who were present at the meeting included CPM’s Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut, National Conference’s Omar Abdullah, Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien and Kalyan Banerjee, Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh, RLD’s Jayant Chaudhary, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva, BJD’s Pinaki Misra, Akali Dal’s Naresh Gujral and representatives of the TDP and the YSRCP, reported The Indian Express.
The presence of BJD, TDP, YSRCP and SAD representatives also hinted at a shift from their previous stand as they are not part of the Opposition grouping in Parliament in the ongoing Monsoon Session. The only major non-BJP party which did not attend the meet was Mayawati’s BSP.
The meeting took place exactly a year after the Congress rebel group of G23 leaders demanded reforms within the party by writing to Sonia Gandhi. Notably, all members of the G23 group were present at Sibal’s dinner meeting.
Apart from them, Sibal had also invited P Chidambaram and his son and Lok Sabha MP Karti Chidambaram.
While the parties gathered to show the opposition’s unity at the national level, but they will be contradicting their stand at the regional level. For example, the Congress will be taking on the BJD in Odisha, the Akali Dal will be contesting against the Congress in Punjab while the Congress will fight Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, if no alliance takes place.
According to the IE report, many leaders highlighted that the opposition should not fight against each other in Uttar Pradesh, thus making it the first milestone against the BJP on the path to 2024.
According to the report, Akali Dal’s Gujral told the Congress leaders present at the dinner meeting that the party needs to free itself from the clutches of the Gandhi family.