With government gearing up to face the opposition onslaught in winter session of Parliament on foreign direct investment in retail issue besides hike in diesel price, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday night hosted a dinner for Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav.
The dinner meeting, seen as an attempt to reach out to Yadav, comes days ahead of the winter session of Parliament which commences on November 22.
Yadav's son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was also present along with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah.
SP has openly opposed FDI in retail but maintained it is not withdrawing its support to UPA government in order to check communal forces.
Government, which is also likely to face opposition attack on hike in diesel price and cap on subsidised LPG cylinders at 6 per year, wants the support of Samajwadi Party to get important legislations like Lokpal, Whistleblowers' Bill and Land bill passed in Parliament.
The government is also banking on the support of such allies to ensure that the proposed Food Security Bill faces lesser obstacles in the Parliament session.
Sources said the presence of Akhilesh Yadav assumes significance as his government seeks to get central assistance for various schemes in the state.
Akhilesh has so far written 38 letters to the prime minister highlighting various issues which need the Centre's attention such as faster delivery of turbines for power projects, better rail connectivity for thermal power projects and Rs 800 crore help for next year's Kumbh Mela. While the Planning Commission had approved the grant for Kumbh mela, the finance ministry is learnt to have raised certain objections.
UP says as several foreign tourists also attend the mela at Allahabad, the Centre should also chip in with financial help.
Leaders of other allies like Nationalist Congress Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Rashtriya Lok Dal have been called by the prime minister for dinner on Sunday. Like SP, BSP is an outside supporter of the government.
The prime minister will be discussing how UPA and allies can unitedly face the opposition during the winter session of Parliament.