New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will host a dinner for the BJP leaders on Saturday to win over political support for retail FDI ahead of the crucial Winter Session. After playing host to UPA allies on Friday night, the Prime Minister will continue his dinner diplomacy by hosting senior BJP leaders at his residence on Saturday.
Senior BJP leader LK Advani, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and her Rajya Sabha counter-part Arun Jaitley are among those invited. The dinner is seen as an attempt by the PM to ensure a smooth functioning of the winter session that begins on November 22. The Monsoon Session was a complete wash-out as the BJP persisted with its attack over corruption charges.
The meeting acquires significance as the BJP is preparing to corner the government over various issues like FDI in retail, corruption charges, hike in diesel price and cap on subsidised LPG cylinders during the Winter Session beginning on November 22.
The government is trying to rope in support of BJP to ensure passage crucial Bills which have been hanging fire for long. These include Lokpal Bill, Land Acquisition Bill and the Food Bill in the upcoming session besides the proposed legislations on insurance and pension.
"The Parliament session has a very heavy legislative agenda. We are reaching out to the various political parties to carry through these agenda in the four weeks that we have for the session," Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Friday. "We sincerely hope that the forthcoming session will be a productive one and many bills will be passed...My suggestion is that not one issue should be blown out of proportion. There are many very important issues that concern the welfare of people and future of country," he added.
BJP and its NDA allies have hinted that they may disrupt Parliament to press for discussions on issues including FDI in multi-brand retail, price rise, scams, and corruption. They are coordinating with other like-minded parties, including the Left. The Opposition may press for voting on certain issues.
Most of the last session of Parliament had got wasted due to BJP's persistent attack on the government over corruption issue and the ruling dispensation is making efforts to avert the repeat of that situation. Though it has now become almost customary for the Prime Minister to invite the top brass of the principal Opposition for dinner before each session, Saturday's meeting is important as the government wants to break the virtual deadlock.
On Friday, the Prime Minister hosted a dinner for UPA leaders where DMK is understood to have insisted that government should avoid voting in Parliament on FDI in retail, making clear its reservation on the issue. With this in mind, government is likely to propose to BJP a discussion on FDI in Parliament under rule 193 which does not entail voting.
(With additional inputs from PTI)