UP by-polls: Rahul Gandhi congratulates winners

Former UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi hosts dinner today; TDP, BJD, TRS not invited

Adityanath, who had described the SP-BSP alliance for the bypolls in Uttar Pradesh as the "snake and mongoose" coming together, had to eat his own words as the Akhilesh-Mayawati combine wrested both the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats from the BJP.

On Wednesday, when the news of BJP receiving a drubbing in Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha by-elections came in, Congress President Rahul Gandhi chose to reach out to NCP supremo Sharad Pawar. The results are a boost to Tejaswi Yadav, younger son of Lalu Prasad, who spearheaded the party campaign in the absence of his father who is in Ranchi jail in connection with fodder scam cases.

The plenary will begin with a meeting of steering committee on Friday which would finalise the draft resolutions. "When the government does not have interest to run Parliament, then it is natural that leaders of opposition parties, who are concerned about the problems faced by the people, will discuss the country's politics". Among those who attended were the Nationalist Congress Party's Sharad Power, Omar Abdullah of the National Conference, the Janata Dal United's Sharad Yadav, forMER Bihari chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi (who recently exited the NDA camp to join Bihar's mahagathbandhan), Satish Mishra of the Bahujan Samaj Party, Babulal Marandi of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and Badruddin Ajmal of the All India United Democratic Front. "If she continues as the leader of the UPA and Rahul Gandhi plays the role of creating a new alliance, it will be beneficial for both the party and the Opposition", a member of the Drafting Committee said.

Rahul Gandhi tweeted after the dinner that there was "much political talk" but also "tremendous positive energy, warmth and genuine affection".

Congress leader and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi hosted a dinner on Tuesday for the leaders of opposition parties. "Their (the workers) suggestions will be noted and also incorporated in the resolutions", a party leader said. "It was a political dinner".

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The drafting committee has 44 other senior party leaders as its members. "It was a political dinner but there were no political talks". Even though Congress could not even retain deposits in these by-elections, the defeat of BJP came as booster dose to Rahul, just two days ahead of AICC plenary session, to be held in Delhi on March 17-18, ratifying his election as Congress president. Pawar's daughter and Lok Sabha MP Supriya Sule is said to have been a part of this meeting as well.

Rahul is also expected to meet Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee when she visits Delhi on March 28 to underscore the need for a strong alliance to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2019 polls. After the meeting with Banerjee last week, Patel had told reporters that the idea of having a federal front in the future was discussed between them.

Seventeen opposition parties came together against the BJP-led NDA during the presidential and vice-presidential elections previous year, and Sonia Gandhi has been holding occasional meetings to nurture the bond.

"So it seems opposition parties already feeling a euphoria and hoping that now 'Acchhe Din" will be theirs soon.

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