Feeling revitalised after several by-poll victories and improved performance in local body elections, Congress is trying to build up pressure on the Modi government on issues related to agrarian crisis, unemployment growth and rising cases of scams, yet it is conscious that dislodging the BJP may not fructify without building an alliance on the lines of 2004.
LEADERS of 20 Opposition parties on Tuesday night got together at a dinner hosted by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, where possibilities of putting up a united front to defeat the BJP in the next general elections were discussed.
Apart from NCP, SP and BSP leaders, Rashtriya Janata Dal's (RJD) Tejashwi Yadav, Hindustani Awam Morcha's (HAM) Jitan Ram Manjhi, National Conference's (NC) Omar Abdullah, JVM's Babulal Marandi, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)'s Kanimozhi and All India United Democratic Front's (AIUDF) Badruddin Ajmal also attended the dinner hosted by Sonia Gandhi.
"Much political talk but much more important - tremendous positive energy, warmth and genuine affection", he wrote, and tagged a group photo of the attendees.
There had been some confusion after Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee took the initiative of contacting anti-Congress parties like the TRS.
BSP also made its presence felt by sending senior Rajya Sabha leader Satish Chandra Mishra. According to a person with knowledge of the event, although it was more of an "informal meeting", the opposition's future strategy both inside and outside Parliament was discussed.
Posting a few pictures from the dinner meet, Mr. Gandhi tweeted, "Fabulous dinner tonight, hosted by UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi Ji". It could not be taken up amid objections raised by opposition parties who have written to Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan requesting her intervention.
Kumar said besides the financial business, the government was keen to get Parliament approval for the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, Payment of Gratuity Bill, the Medical Council of India Bill among others.
"We want to run the Budget Session to the fullest extent even after completion of the financial business", Kumar told reporters here, dismissing speculation of an early end to the Budget Session which has not witnessed any substantive business since it re-convened on March 5.
The Congress put the onus on the government to ensure smooth functioning of Parliament. "It seems Sonia and Rahul Gandhi don't believe in democracy".
Tejashwi Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal appeared to agree, contrasting the incremental improvement in the opposition ranks with the Telugu Desam Party pulling out its ministers from PM Narendra Modi's team.
The dinner hosted by Mrs Gandhi is expected to set the tone for opposition unity in the run-up to the next general elections.