Sonia Gandhi hosted 17 opposition leaders for dinner last night

Rahul and Sonia Gandhi with other senior party members

SP's Pravin Nishad defeated Upendra Dutt Shukla of the BJP by 21,961 votes in Gorakhpur, a seat which had been with the BJP since 1989.

Indian Union Muslim League 's P. K. Kunhalikutty, Jose K. Mani of the Kerala Congress (Mani) party, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik's Babulal Marandi, the Revolutionary Socialist Party's N. K. Premachandran, veteran socialist leader Sharad Yadav, Rashtriya Lok Dal's Ajit Singh and Janata Dal-Secular's Kupendra Reddy were also present, as was Hindustan Awam Morcha leader Jiten Ram Manjhi, who quit the National Democratic Alliance last month.

In the Phulpur seat in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP lost by a margin of 59,613 votes.

A strong votary of alliance politics, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi has already launched an initiative to bring all opposition parties onto one platform ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Though senior leaders from Trinamool, SP and BSP attended the dinner, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, BSP chief Mayawati and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav gave it a miss. Leaders of 20 parties joined the dinner at her residence in Delhi.

There have been suggestions that he should follow the route adopted by his mother during her 19-year stewardship of the party and not exercise the option, provided in the party constitution, of going for elections to choose half the members of CWC, the highest decision-making body of the party.

The outcome of the March 11 bypolls has sparked talk in political circles about a continuing pact between the SP and the BSP - once bitter critics in Uttar Pradesh.

This can be seen as an attempt to made an anti-BJP alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Some leaders later said that the dinner was part of effort to forge a front against the BJP in the Lok Sabha battle next year and regional rivals were coming together. Its nominee Sarfaraz Alam beat the BJP's Pradeep Kumar Singh by over 60,000 votes, dealing a blow to the JD (U)-BJP alliance, which went to the hustings for the first time after Nitish Kumar returned to the NDA fold last July.

"Laluji's (RJD supremo Lalu Prasad) effort to have a mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) at the national level, this was a positive move towards that", he said and accused the BJP-led government of political vendetta against its opponents.

"This defeat is definitely an unexpected one", said UP BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi.

In another tweet, he named the 10 Lok Sabha seats - Amritsar, Srinagar, Malappuram, Gurdaspur, Ajmer, Alwar, Uluberia, Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Araria.

The Congress today said people across the country, angered by the BJP's "arrogance and misrule", were "showing it the door", as was amply proved by the by-election results in the states. It had lost the seat to Congress candidate Kantilal Bhuria. "Top leaders of parties keep meeting", he said, and denied if it had anything to do with the support the TMC had extended to Congress candidate Abhishek M Singhvi in the Rajya Sabha polls.

"When you ask for what changes have happened in the state, you should see how gun-totting criminals have given up on crime and have become vegetable vendors", he told show host Sharma amid applause.

The results of the bypolls in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have left the BJP in Rajasthan stunned as it was hoping to cash-in on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's magic in the upcoming assembly polls.

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