PM to host UPA dinner tonight, invites BJP Saturday
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is hosting a dinner Friday for UPA partners to discuss the government's strategy ahead of parliament's winter session from Nov 22. He has also invited senior BJP leaders to dinner Saturday, sources said.
The prime minister has already met Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati separately to keep them in good humour.
Both the SP and the BSP support the United Progressive Alliance (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 (MIM) lone MP Asaduddin Owaisi withdrew last week.
"We expect the UPA to have a collective strategy ahead of the winter session at the UPA dinner. It is a good step. Such informal consultations are always welcome," Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) general secretary D.P. Tripathi told IANS.
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 Gujarat assembly elections due in December.
Besides the NCP, leaders of other allies such as the DMK, Rashtriya Lok Dal and National Conference are expected to attend the dinner.
From the BJP, senior leader L.K. Advani and leaders of opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitey are expected to attend the dinner Saturday.
The Left parties want a debate and vote on foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail during the winter session, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury has said. The party has also appealed to others in the opposition to join the issue.