NEW DELHI: Just ahead of the Monsoon session of Parliament, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s Iftar dinner on Monday saw the attendance of leaders from almost all Opposition parties.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, former minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar, his close aide Praful Patel were among the notable persons present at the Iftar gathering.
BSP’s Satish Mishra, RJD’s Prem Gupta and Jai Prakash Yadav and TMC’s Derek O’Brien, seated next to Sonia, formed the who’s who of anti-BJP force. RJD chief Lalu Prasad had already announced that he will not be attending the Iftar party owing to his previous commitments in the state.
Even though the RJD strongman’s close aide Prem Gupta was standing in for him, Lalu’s no show created a a noticeable unease in the Opposition camp, more so in the context of September-October’s Bihar elections.
Leaders like former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and DMK’s Kanimozhi stayed throughout.
It was, however, the absence of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav that became the talking point.
Sources said that Mulayam, in a letter to Sonia, had expressed his inability to attend the party. However, there has been no official word on the SP chief’s absence. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was also another notable absentee.
The other notable absence was the CPI. From the CPM, Mohammed Salim MP breezed in and out, barely within a few minutes.
Considerable significance is being attached to the get-together ahead of Monsoon session, which is likely to be the most turbulent for Narendra Modi Government since it assumed power in May .
During off camera interaction with mediamen on the sidelines of the Iftar party, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also gave ample hints about the impending Parliament session being a stormy affair.
Rahul said the Opposition has plenty to talk about in Parliament in the upcoming session and that he is ready to take the lead in cornering Modi Government.
“I will speak in Parliament, even if the Prime Minister speaks or not,” he said.