New Delhi: Ten days to go for the Winter Session of Parliament, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has embarked on what is being labelled as meal diplomacy. After dining with Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Saturday, the PM hosted BSP supremo Mayawati on Sunday afternoon, and even though Mayawati insisted the hour-long meeting had nothing to do with Winter Session, questions about a possible deal kept cropping up.
Speaking to reporters, Mayawati appeared non-committal about saving the UPA from its ex-ally Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee's wrath. The government, however, appeared confident. "She has assured us of cooperation," said Congress leader Kamal Nath.
Support of the BSP's 21 and the Samajwadi Party's 22 MPs is crucial for the UPA to ensure passage of crucial bills like FDI in pension and insurance and the Lokpal. After the Trinamool Congress withdrew support of its 19 MPs, the UPA remains in minority with 253 MPs. Support of either of the two Uttar Pradesh parties would ensure that it achieves the magic figure of 272.
However, the arithmetic notwithstanding, the BJP-led Opposition is convinced that the UPA won't survive its full term. "'Hum toh doobenge sanam, tumhe bhi le doobenge' wala haal hai Congress ka ('We will drown and we will take you along with us' - that's the situation the Congress is in)," said BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
Mamata, Mulayam and Mayawati are the 3 Ms who hold the key to UPA II's survival now. After the PM's meal diplomacy, the government appears confident of having Mulayam and Mayawati on board. However, with Mayawati remaining non-committal, and Mamata looking set to disrupt proceedings, will it be a smooth sailing for the government?