No breakthrough at PM-BJP dinner?
The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failed to find much common ground on Thursday, even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hosted a dinner for the Opposition leaders in an effort to avoid a Parliamentary deadlock over thorny issues.
Three top BJP leaders dined on Thursday at the 7 Race Course Road residence of Singh, as the PM sought to ensure that another session of the Parliament is not lost to a standoff over foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail issue.
However, according to media reports a breakthrough was not achieved between the two sides and hopes of a consensus are now pinned on an all-party meeting that Singh has called on Monday.
On Thursday morning, before the Parliament convened for the beginning of the Winter session, the PM made a direct appeal to the opposition saying, there was a "very heavy legislative agenda during the Winter Session. I seek cooperation from my colleagues in the House."
At the dinner meeting, BJP patriarch LK Advani, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley represented the the right wing Hindu nationalist outfit.
Singh was also joined by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath and Finance Minister P Chidambaram.
The dinner, earlier scheduled for Saturday, had been called off following the death of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, an ally of the BJP.
Singh has been dining with both political friends and foes to ensure a smooth winter session of the Parliament. However, a deadlock between the government and the Opposition on the issue of FDI in retail seems inevitable.
"We want the debate under Rule 184," said Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj. speaking on FDI in retail.
The government is opposed to it.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said he was ready to discuss all issues and sought cooperation of the Opposition in tiding over economic hardship arising out of global situation.
Requesting cooperation from colleagues from both houses the PM before entering the Parliament said: "We are ready to discuss all issues on the floor of both houses."
The BJP on Tuesday said it was open to bringing its own no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh government, setting the stage for a stormy Winter session of the Parliament.
At the end of a 90-minute meeting, the BJP and its allies, members of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), also called for a discussion on FDI in multi-brand retail under a rule that allows voting.