PM hosts dinner for allies on Friday ahead of winter session; also invited BJP leaders today
Just before the beginning of the winter session of the Parliament, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh Friday hosted a dinner party for allies and opposition where the government's strategy was discussed, sources said.
The winter session of parliament is scheduled to begin from Nov 22 and in this session, several crucial bills are likely to be tabled including foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail sector.
The Left parties want a debate and vote on this issue during the winter session, CPIM leader Sitaram Yechury said. The party has also appealed to others in the opposition to join the issue.
According to sources, the Friday dinner, also described as an informal United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coordination committee meeting, was held at the Prime Minister's House, 7, Race Course Road, to firm up the government's response to the opposition, especially over FDI in retail.
Earlier, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi headed a meeting of the party's core group to review the current political situation, including the declaration of the 2014 Lok Sabha poll candidates by the Samajwadi Party.
Besides Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Home Minister Shushilkumar Shinde, DMK leader T.R. Baalu, NCP leader Praful Patel, Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Ajit Singh and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah attended the UPA meeting.
The prime minister has already met Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati separately over separate dinners to keep them in good humour.
Both the SP and the BSP support the UPA from the outside and provide an important cushion to the government, from which Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress quit in September and Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen's lone MP Asaduddin Owaisi withdrew last week.
Though UPA sources said the allies are with the government on all major issues, the stand of the DMK on the FDI issue is not yet clear.
UPA sources said they expected the winter session to function normally, but did not rule out the possibility of the BJP again disrupting parliament, as it did in the monsoon session, with an eye to the Gujarat assembly elections due in December.
Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley along with senior BJP leader L K Advani are expected to dine with the Prime Minister on Saturday.
--With IANS Inputs--
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