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PM tries to keep his flock together at dinner

Source: PTI
November 16, 2012 23:57 IST
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Ahead of the crucial Winter Session of Parliament starting next week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday hosted a dinner for United Progressive Alliance leaders in a bid to firm up a joint strategy on various issues, including FDI in retail, which are likely to be raked by the Opposition.

Singh's dinner with UPA leaders comes close on the heels of his similar interactions with leaders of crucial outside supporters Samajwadi Party and BSP. He hosted dinner for SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh last week and followed it with lunch for BSP chief Mayawati on Sunday.

There is a view within the government that no business could be transacted on the first two days of the Winter Session of Parliament starting November 22, but it is hopeful that some solution will be found out and Parliament can have normal functioning from the following week.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath is learnt to have told the allies at today's dinner that it is being examined if a motion for or against a government's executive order can be voted or not by Parliament. The allies, however, did not raise any specific issue on FDI.

Besides UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Defence Minister A K Antony, Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde among those who attended Friday's dinner included T R Balu of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference, Praful Patel of the Nationalist Congress Party, Ajit Singh of the Rashtriya Lok Dal and E Ahamed of Indian Union Muslim League.

The Prime Minister is reaching out to allies and outside supporters as the government faces the prospect of a motion entailing voting on FDI and even a possible threat of a no-confidence motion.

The Left parties have tabled a motion that will seek a vote on FDI. The main opposition BJP, its ally Janata Dal-United as also Trinamool Congress, which parted ways with the UPA few months back on the issue, have also given notices.

Those from the Opposition who have given notices include Shatabdi Roy (TMC), Ramesh Bais, A T Nana Patil, Hansraj Ahir (all BJP) and Rajiv Ranjan Singh (JD-U).

To add to the government's discomfiture, sulking ally DMK has declined to disclose its stand on how it would vote either on such motions or the No-Confidence Motion, likely to be moved by Trinamool Congress.

On Wednesday, DMK chief M Karunanidhi said in Chennai that his party's stand on the FDI issue is a "suspense".

Asked whether DMK would support Left and some other parties' proposed resolution with provision for voting in Parliament on FDI, he had said the party's views would be made known after consultations with Parliamentary Party members.

The support of DMK, the second largest group in UPA with its 18 MPs in Lok Sabha, is crucial for the UPA in case of a voting on a motion.

At present, the government enjoys the support of about 265 MPs, including DMK, in a house of 545. With the support of Samajwadi Party (22) and BSP (21), the backing for the ruling coalition goes a little over 300, which is comfortable over the required 273 majority mark in Lok Sabha.

BSP and SP together or individually have not shown signs of withdrawing support so far.

Mayawati, who has hinted at the possibility of early polls, had remained vague on her party's stand on FDI issue after her lunch with the Prime Minister.

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