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PM to host dinner for BJP leaders tonight

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, November 16, 2012
First Published: 20:16 IST(16/11/2012) | Last Updated: 10:00 IST(17/11/2012)

After breaking bread with allies, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has invited BJP, the principal opposition party, for dinner on Saturday.

Caught between its urgency to push reforms and a possible stormy winter session of parliament, Singh's dinner diplomacy is a part of the overall strategy to convince opponents while keeping the UPA's own house in order.

The prime minister hosted a dinner for all UPA partners at his residence on Friday. Before the dinner on Friday, top Congress and UPA leaders held a strategy meeting on the winter session of Parliament.

On Saturday, leaders of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha - Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley - and BJP veteran LK Advani will meet the PM at 8 pm at the same venue.

Friend-turned-foe Trinamool Congress and some opposition parties plan to bring a resolution against the FDI policy of the government in the upcoming session that starts from December 22.

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The government is unlikely to accept any discussion under rule 184 (with voting) but settle for a debate without voting. The government's argument is that an executive decision doesn't require Parliament's veto.

There is a conscious effort from the Congress's side to reach out to the opposition as it also needs their support to pass key reforms bills such as the insurance and the pension acts amendment bills.

As the UPA remains in minority in the upper house, it cannot pass bills without the opposition's helping hand. Apart from these two bills, several key bills, especially of the education sector- are pending before Parliament.

The prime minister had met SP, BSP, the two crucial outside supporters of the UPA, last week. After the exit of the Trinamool, the UPA is banking heavily on SP (22 MPs) and BSP (21 MPs) to tackle the opposition onslaught.

In the 545-seat Lok Sabha, the UPA government enjoys a comfortable majority with over 300 MPs on its side.

But if both the SP and the BSP doesn't come in support of the government on an opposition-sponsored resolution on FDI, the UPA managers would require to garner support from parties like the BJD or the JD (U).

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