Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee has decided to continue with a practice he had initiated upon assuming office—that of breaking bread with all political parties and groupings in the run up to every session of Parliament.
So, contrary to reports in a section of the Press, the Speaker will have the Opposition NDA over for lunch on November 19 followed by a dinner meeting with the Congress.
The Left front partners, the Samajwadi Party, BSP, TDP and the Rashtriya Lok Dal will be invited for breakfast on November 20 and the UPA for dinner the same evening.
Sources said media speculation over Chatterjee abandoning pre-session interactions over meals arose primarily on account of the Government's decision to advance the start of Parliament's Winter Session from November 27 to November 22.
"This meant readjusting the Speaker's prior commitments to fit in the meetings with political parties," they said.
The meetings over meals afford parties represented in Parliament an opportunity to share their views on the smooth conduct of the impending session. Many political parties approached the Speaker in recent days with the advice that the practice was useful and must not be discontinued.
Meanwhile, reports about Chinese President Hu Jintao addressing Parliament's joint sitting during his November 20-23 visit have also turned out to be untrue.
The matter figured in a discussion between Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi and the CPI's AB Bardhan. But that was about all.
In fact, President Hu, the first Chinese Head of State to visit India after Jiang Zemin's 1996 journey, is slated to leave Delhi for Mumbai on the morning of November 22, the opening day of Parliament's Winter Session.