With the 15th Lok Sabha in its final days, a group of BJP members came together for a final, informal dinner in the capital on Wednesday. This was no random group — it was formed in 2010, and the bulk of its 16 members are bound by a unique similarity. They call themselves the G16.
Twelve of this Group of 16 were politically born on May 16, 2009, with the results of the last general elections. They were all first-timers, and on Wednesday, members of the G16 promised each other that they would meet again in the 16th Lok Sabha.
The membership of the club was originally intended to be restricted to Lok Sabha debutants; however, four senior MPs — Virendra Kumar (Tikamgarah), Shripad Naik (North Goa), Dilip Gandhi (Ahmednagar) and Pralhad Joshi (Dharwad) — subsequently joined, taking the number to 16.
Members of the group helped each other understand issues, policy and debates and, as one of them said, “occasionally applaud when another member spoke in Parliament”.
Bikaner MP Arjun Meghwal, the group’s informal convener, said, “Initially senior leaders were reluctant to attend our weekly dinners, saying they did not want to encourage groups within the party. But once they were convinced it was just a forum to exchange knowledge and enrich understanding, they began to accept our invitations.”
So, Wednesday’s dinner, at Gandhi’s residence, was attended by Gopinath Munde. L K Advani, Nitin Gadkari and Sushma Swaraj have attended earlier dinners. A member of the G16 said, “Though party chief Rajnath Singh has never come, he has been fully aware of the group, and satisfied about our purpose.”
Gadkari said, “We learn something from each other when we meet like this. Such informal meetings strengthen our organisation. I appreciate such efforts.”
The dinners are also a platform for MPs to showcase other talent. Virendra Kumar has often played the flute. The food has been from nearly every state, but always vegetarian. Some dinners have had special invitees, who have spoken on specialised issues engaging Parliament.
Sources said that at Wednesday’s dinner, Munde asked the MPs to estimate the BJP’s tally in the next Lok Sabha, and the consensus estimate was 210. The breakup included 35 seats in UP, 30 in Bihar, four in Delhi, three in Himachal Pradesh, 22 in Rajasthan and 20 in Gujarat.