Sonia Gandhi plans Opposition get-together, leaders to stage protest today

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As the tumultuous monsoon session of Parliament drew to a close Wednesday – it also saw the Opposition parties put up a united front — Congress president Sonia Gandhi was said to have spoken to some senior Opposition leaders, including Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee, Uddhav Thackeray and M K Stalin, inviting them for a get-together.

No date has been finalised yet for the meeting, sources said, adding that the get-together over lunch or dinner will depend on the schedule and availability of the leaders.

Incidentally, Gandhi reached out two days after several Opposition leaders turned up at a dinner hosted by Congress leader Kapil Sibal, one from the Group of 23 which have been seeking sweeping changes in the party.

The dinner hosted by Sibal was seen in the Congress as a signal that the letter writers (G-23) are still active, the group intact and the turmoil in the party far from over.

Gandhi, who had been keeping away from Parliament and avoiding public engagements, attended House proceedings Tuesday and Wednesday. On Wednesday, she also attended the customary tea gathering, hosted by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, along with Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah too were present.

Having forged unity in Parliament, the Opposition parties are now working on keeping it intact. All Opposition leaders are set to meet Thursday at the Parliament chamber of Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, and then stage a symbolic protest in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue on the premises of Parliament House. They also plan to march to Vijay Chowk.

Sources said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had suggested that the leaders stage a protest at Raj Ghat to protest “stifling of their voices in Parliament” after the sine die adjournment of the session, but most leaders were in favour of assembling in Parliament, the monsoon session of which was curtailed by two days. The session was scheduled to end Friday.

Rahul Gandhi, sources said, has been urging Opposition leaders to take their voice to the people through social and online media if they are not allowed to speak in Parliament or their protests are not shown on Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha TV channels.

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