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Sonia hosts dinner

Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi, March 3: Sonia Gandhi tonight hosted dinner for party MPs and their spouses and kept the event strictly social by not making any political speech, but her guests tried to dispel the impression that the general election was as good as lost for the Congress.

As the MPs claimed that 10 years of stable governance was no mean achievement, Sonia tried to inject confidence into her soldiers. She betrayed no trace of nervousness ahead of a battle being considered as lost for her party.

There were several tables and Sonia went around talking to each group of MPs as they feasted on biryani and kebabs. Rahul Gandhi, too, avoided talking politics and patiently listened to the MPs who explained the ground reality in their states.

The political message, however, lay in the choice of menu: there was a conscious effort to include well-known dishes from every region. From Kashmiri non-vegetarian delicacies to Bengali sweets to south Indian sambar to Goan fish, the message of pluralism flew from the plates.

The MPs will now get busy with campaigning, as most know they will get tickets. The central election committee too finalised a large number of candidates today.

But ticket aspirants from some states are waiting in Delhi as their fates hang in balance. With Bihar awaiting the alliance decision, some sitting MPs fear they may be replaced.

The Centre has decided to call a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, a day before the poll schedule might be announced. This has generated curiosity, including the possibility of special status for Bihar, a condition set by the Janata Dal (United) for alliance with the Congress.