New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will host a dinner on Saturday for the BJP top brass ahead of the parliament’s winter session starting on November 22.
Besides BJP veteran LK Advani, leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and her counterpart in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley are expected to attend the dinner.
The move is being seen in political circles as an attempt to reach out to the main opposition party so that the government is able to get business transacted in the session.
BJP has said that its president Nitin Gadkari will lead a march to the prime minister’s residence on November 21 as part of the party’s nationwide agitation against corruption.
The BJP had not allowed the monsoon session to function demanding the prime minister’s resignation over faulty coal block allocations, as alleged by the official auditor in a report.
UPA sources said that they expected the winter session to function normally, but did not rule out the possibility of the BJP again disrupting parliament with an eye on the Gujarat assembly elections due in December.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist wants a debate and a vote on foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail during the session and has appealed to others in the opposition to join the issue.
The BJP, supported by the trader community, is opposed to the FDI in retail though it did not shy from toying with the idea during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) rule 1998-2004.
The UPA 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.
But even within the UPA, the stand of DMK is not yet clear on the FDI though all the allies are one on major issues.
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.