United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi did not attend the lunch hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in honour of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari at his residence on Sunday.
Though no official reason was given to explain her absence from the meeting, the Congress president is understood to have sent a letter of regret, sources said.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi declined to go into the reasons for her absence at the lunch, stating that the media should stop looking for grand plans or conspiracies in non-issues. "These are normal exigencies found in the course of state governance and administration. There could be 101 reasons for her absence, and she is not obliged to provide an explanation or reason," he said.
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, however, attended the lunch - seating himself next to Zardari's son, Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Bilawal is said to have invited Gandhi to visit Pakistan - to which he has agreed.
In turn, Rahul invited Bilawal on a second India visit soon.