Congress President Sonia Gandhi had a two-hour luncheon meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhawan on Friday afternoon, disclose highly placed sources at the President’s house.
It is learnt that while a host of issues were discussed at the meeting, the Congress president is learnt to have expressed her growing concern over the deteriorating situation between India and Pakistan with skirmishes continuing across the Line of Control and in the latest report, Pakistan violated the ceasefire by firing across Kargil.
It is for the first time since the Kargil war in 1999, that the Pakistani forces fired across the LOC in the Kargil and Drass sectors on Thursday when India was celebrating its 66th independence day.
Sources disclose that the Congress is in favour of a hardline approach towards Pakistan at this juncture and is also judging the pros and cons of the proposed Dr Manmohan Singh-Nawaz Sherief New York meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
Sources say that the situation may turn hostile in the coming days for this meet. Sonia is reported to have discussed this with the President, particularly in the context of the strong language used by Pranab in his address to the nation on the eve of Independence Day when he said, “our patience has limits”.
The prime minister in his Red Fort speech chose a much softer line which sources say has not gone down well with the Congress and its leadership. It is learnt that it was at the insistence of the Congress that the government quickly moved to pass a resolution in both houses of Parliament in reaction to the resolution against India passed in the Pakistan parliament.
The Congress president and Pranab are understood to have also discussed the ongoing session of Parliament with the government unable to transact any business because of continued disruptions and crucial bills such as Food Security, Land Acquisition and others not being passed by the Lok Sabha so far.
It is surprising that no one from the government approached Telugu Desam Party leader Chandrababu Naidu earlier since his members of Parliament were creating the daily disturbances.
Now that he has been approached, Naidu has said that a committee at the government level and not at the party level should be formed, to discuss the issues of Andhra Pradesh and the Telangana region. He said on this condition, his MPs may withdraw their schedule of daily disruptions.
Till the time that he became President, Pranab was the chief troubleshooter for the government and the Congress and much of the floor management was done by him, using his excellent relations with political leaders across the political spectrum.
Even now most of these leaders are in touch with him and meet him regularly at Rashtrapati Bhawan.
The prime minister looked tired both in the morning at Red Fort and again in evening at Rashtrapati Bhawan. It is probably correct to say that this may have been his last address to the nation from the Red Fort as the party would be looking forward to party vice president Rahul Gandhi in the unlikely event that they do cobble up the numbers.
Sonia is known to meet Pranab from time to time to seek his views and sometimes his guidance on how to tackle tricky situations and issues. The congress is facing five important assembly elections in November followed by the general elections early next year and the election tempo is building up at a time when the economic situation is sliding very fast -- the rupee is at an all time low, the foreign exchange position is precarious, Pakistan is acting aggressive and violating the ceasefire.