Lunches get political ahead of Lok Sabha polls
By  IANS | Updated:  Feb 05, 2019, 12:30 PM
As the Lok Sabha elections approach, lunches hosted by politicians are getting traction not only for the who's who attending them but also for the message these apparently send about the host's political stocks within his party and outside.
There have been quite a few lunches and get-togethers over the past few weeks, most of them being annual events. The events were hosted by leaders from across the political divide including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
The lunch hosted by Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal was the talk of the town as it was attended by women leaders of several parties.
There was an evident bonhomie between NCP's Supriya Sule, DMK's Kanimozhi, Union Minister Smriti Irani and BJP MP Kirron Kher.
A picture of the event, tweeted by Harsimrat Kaur Badal a day later, showed the women leaders holding each other's hands.
"Life worked its magic on us yesterday afternoon, when a routine lunch became a trip to childhood," she said in the tweet. The lunch was held a day for before the day of interim budget.
It was also attended by NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Health Minister J.P. Nadda. The leaders treated themselves to some sumptuous Punjabi dishes.
Another lunch hosted by former Union Minister and NCP leader Praful Patel for journalists in the first week of January appeared to be a show of strength of opposition leaders who are coming together with the goal of defeating the BJP and ousting the Narendra Modi government in the coming Lok Sabha election.
Those who attended it included Congress' Ahmed Patel, BSP's Satish Chandra Mishra, SP's Ram Gopal Yadav and Jaya Bachchan, DMK's Kanimozhi and Tiruchi Siva, Trinamool's Derek O'Brien and Dinesh Trivedi, CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury, CPI's D. Raja, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and Lalu Prasad's daughter Misa Bharti of the RJD.
They also posed for a group photograph as a message of opposition unity.
On Sunday, BJP President Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh launched party's campaign seeking suggestions from the voters for the party's poll manifesto.
The programme, followed by lunch, was attended by several Union Ministers, besides editors from different media houses.
Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Radha Mohan Singh, Anupriya Patel, Ashwini Choubey and Vijay Goel, besides former Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy, too, hosted lunches for journalists which were attended by senior party leaders. BJP MP Udit Raj also held a get-together over "Litti Chokha".
Most of the lunches were held around Makar Sakranti, which is celebrated across the country in different ways.
Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda hosted lunch on Makar Sakranti at his residence which was attended by several senior Congress leaders including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ahmed Patel, Motilal Vora and Janardan Dwivedi.
Apart from Deepender Hooda and his son, several second-generation Congress leaders were present including R.P.N. Singh and Madhu Goud Yaskhi.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi also hosted a lunch for media persons in the second week of January which was attended by several party leaders including Ahmed Patel and Dwivedi.
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