By Siddharth Sharma
New Delhi [India], August 10 (ANI): Rajya Sabha MP and former Union Minister Kapil Sibal's birthday dinner on Monday became a rallying point for the Opposition's call for unity and change in the working of the Congress party to counter the ruling dispensation.
On one hand, where the Gandhi family remained absent from the gathering, it witnessed an attendance of G-23 members including veteran Congress leader Gulam Nabi Azad, party MP Shashi Tharoor, Bhupendra Singh Hooda, Anand Sharma, Manish Tewari and P Chidambaram.
As per sources present at the party, the occasion turned into another show of G-23 leaders, where for the first time opposition party leaders got together at a dinner table, and demanded changes in Congress leadership.
The dinner was also attended by many important non-UPA leaders like RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, TMC's Derek O'Brien, Omar Abdullah from National Conference, Pinaki Mishra of Biju Janta Dal, Naresh Gujral of Shiromani Akali Dal, Sanjay Raut of Shivsena, Sanjay Singh of Aam Admi Party, along with many leaders of TDP, DMK, YSR Congress and TRS.
As per sources, the political agenda was clearly discussed at the dinner table with a call for improvement on Congress leadership to put up a strong front against the ruling BJP-led government.
"While Omar Abdullah questioned what steps were being taken to strengthen the Congress and stated that whenever the Congress is strong, the opposition becomes stronger, Sharad Pawar extended support to the G-23 leaders and said that we are with you in terms of whatever you are doing inside and outside your party," sources said.
The sources further informed that a section of leaders from Opposition parties also raised the issue of "no leadership in the Congress party" if they are willing to extend their support at the national front.
"TMC leader Derek O' Brien said that on one hand, Congress fights against TMC in West Bengal, on the other hand, the party wants TMC to be on board with them in Centre. A BJP leader also raised the issue of unclear leadership in the party and said, "there are issues in which we feel that we can align with Congress but whom should we talk to?" sources said.
"YSR representative also said they are ready to forget the things in the past for the betterment of the country. Even Shiromani Akali Dal MP Naresh Gujral said his party can be united on the farmer's issue," they added.
They added that Akhilesh Yadav and Lalu Yadav also stressed the need for strong and united opposition against BJP while both leaders added that Congress should use the experience of senior leaders like Kapil Sibal.
The timing of the meeting is also interesting when the monsoon session of Parliament has few days left and opposition has tried to show unity when it comes to taking on Central Government on the issues like Pegasus, Farmers Agitation, and Inflation.
But it's more alarming for the Congress Party which is trying to showcase and built-up the leadership of Rahul Gandhi as the Wayanad MP is leading the Opposition.
Rahul Gandhi hosted a breakfast for Opposition Party leaders at the Constitution Club in Delhi, a few days back and Congress Party had claimed in a press conference that it's a picture of 2024.
However, the gathering at Sibal's residence has been organized on a day when Rahul Gandhi is in Srinagar. (ANI)