New Delhi | Jagran Politics Desk: Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Monday hosted a dinner for several opposition leaders at his Delhi residence, a day after his birthday, fueling speculations that he is trying to gather support to counter Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The meeting was attended by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, Trinamool Congress' Derek O'Brien, Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav, RLD leader Jayant Chaudhary, National Conference's Omar Abdullah, RJD chief Lalu Prasad, DMK's Tiruchi Siva and Congress' Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari and Anand Sharma.

Though the leaders who attended the party said that it had nothing to do with politics, sources, quoted by news agency IANS, said that uniting the opposition to stop the Modi juggernaut in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections was the agenda of the meet.

The leaders, the sources said, also discussed the assembly elections of five states next year and ways to stop the BJP from coming to power, especially in Uttar Pradesh.

During the meet, NCP Sharad Pawar reportedly said that the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra is the prime example that "opposition forces could coalesce".

"We should aim for a one-on-one contest in 2024," Pawar said, as reported by Hindustan Times. "Who would have thought that the NCP, Congress and Sena can work together".

However, the opposition leaders also pointed out that Congress needs to be united to strengthen the entire opposition. According to reports, the opposition leaders said that Congress' litmus test would be the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections and it must ensure that Samajwadi Party wins the polls.

"If you can strengthen the Congress, then you’ll be strengthening the entire Opposition," said National Conference's Omar Abdullah during the meet, as reported by Hindustan Times.

It must be mentioned that both Congress and Samajwadi Party have decided to go solo for the 2022 polls in Uttar Pradesh. In 2017, the two had contested together but had failed miserably after the PM Modi-led BJP swept the polls, winning over 300 seats in the 400-member legislative assembly in Uttar Pradesh.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma