Nehru event comes a cropper for Congress

Nehru event comes a cropper for Congress

If Congress leaders believed that inviting former allies for the international conference to commemorate Jawaharlal Nehru’s 125th birth anniversary would help them politically, they were wrong.

A number of former UPA constituents were miffed that their presence was not acknowledged adequately by the Congress.

The two-day conference earlier this week was a reunion of sorts for former UPA constituents. Top Left leaders were seen in the company of Congress leaders for the first time since 2008 when they had withdrawn support to the UPA government following disagreement over the civil nuclear deal with the US.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was also present at the conference, is learnt to have been miffed at the cold reception she received from the Congress. “The Congress will never learn its lessons,” a senior leader of a one time UPA constituent said when asked to comment.

It is understood that Congress President Sonia Gandhi later spoke to Banerjee to make amends. A section of Congress leaders from West Bengal were unhappy to be seen in the same conference hall as Banerjee.

“Mamata Banerjee is an opportunist of the first order. In the morning she was with Congress leaders and in the evening with BJP leaders,” a senior West Bengal Congress leader said. Banerjee had attended the Congress conference on Monday morning and later held meetings with BJP veteran L K Advani, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

CPM leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury, CPI leader D Raja, JD (U) President Sharad Yadav, former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, NCP leader D P Tripathi and Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav were among the leaders who marked their attendance at the two-day conference.

Though the coming together of all these parties under one roof was seen as a message to Prime Minister Modi, almost every leader made it clear that they were at the conference as a mark of respect to Nehru and not the Congress. Interestingly, several Congress leaders, including P Chidambaram, Sushilkumar Shinde, A K Antony and Kapil Sibal were conspicuous by their absence.

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