Sonia Gandhi Takes Over Hosting Duties For May 23 Opposition Meet


Sonia Gandhi has taken the lead in opposition consolidation efforts as election results draws near

New Delhi:

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, in an effort to gather opposition parties for a meeting on May 23 – the day the national election results are to be declared – has written to DMK chief MK Stalin.

Sonia Gandhi, who remained chairperson of the UPA after handing charge of the Congress to son Rahul Gandhi in 2017, has taken the lead in opposition consolidation efforts to prep for the possibility of a less than decisive verdict. She has also written to the Janata Dal (Secular), Sharad Pawar's NCP and the Uttar Pradesh opposition alliance partners, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, sources say.

So far in this national election, Sonia Gandhi has kept a low profile as her children Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra campaigned aggressively against the ruling BJP.

However, as the day of the results draws near, the party is aware that it needs every possible ally on board; many remain distant or even cold towards the Congress.

Among those who are likely to attend the May 23 opposition meeting are N Chandrababu Naidu and Sharad Pawar. The Congress has reportedly also reached out to K Chandrashekar Rao of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Naveen Patnaik (BJD) and Jaganmohan Reddy's YSR Congress.

Sources say the Congress does not want a repeat of Goa, where it could not form a government despite emerging the largest party. The BJP, with its alliance game on point, took power along with smaller parties and independents.

Sources said the Congress is keen that "no time is wasted" on May 23, so it wants opposition forces in Delhi so that everyone can be prepared.

But at least three key opposition leaders – Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati and her ally Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav – are likely to skip the meet.

Sources said Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu was told by Mamata Banerjee that there was no need for any such meeting before the results were out. Mayawati has also reportedly not RSVP-ed.

Both Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee are seen to be in the race for the top job. But leaders like MK Stalin have endorsed Congress chief Rahul Gandhi's name.

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