The Congress party may decide to give the banquest hosted by President Ram Nath Kovind for his US counterpart Donald Trump on Tuesday a skip, with senior leader and Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury slamming the central government over the fact that party president Sonia Gandhi has not been invited to the event. While Chowdhury said he will not attend the event as a mark of protest for not inviting the leader of the principal opposition party, there is no clarity on whether Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, will attend the event.
While Chowdhury and Azad are invitees in their capacity as the leader of the single largest party in the Lok Sabha, and the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, respectively, no invitation has been extended to Sonia Gandhi who is the interim president of Congress and an MP from Rae Bareli. Kovind will host the banquet for Trump on Tuesday before Trump departs after his two-day visit to India.
Chowdhury claimed the government has done away with the set tradition of inviting the leader of the principal opposition to hold discussions with the visiting dignitaries. He said such meetings were arranged in the past. "I will not attend the banquet hosted by the President on February 25. It is a protest on my behalf," he said.
"We do not feel good about the change in tradition by the Modi government when the principal opposition party leaders are ignored during such key visits. In the past, we ensured the principal opposition party leaders meet the visiting dignitaries, including US President George Bush or Barack Obama," he said.
In January 2015, during then US President Barack Obama’s visit, Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul, former PM Manmohan Singh and a few Congress leaders had met him. Sonia Gandhi was the president of Congress at that time.
The US President is on a two-day visit to India from today. Trump along with PM Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Motera Stadium and address the people here. Trump will then visit the Taj Mahal in Agra. He will hold bilateral talks with PM Modi tomorrow at the Hyderabad House in Delhi.
President Kovind will host a banquet for Trump before he departs at 10 PM.