Congress president Sonia Gandhi reached out to Sushma Swaraj, leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, putting her arm around the BJP leader’s shoulder on Parliament premises on a day the government failed to pass the ambitious food security bill.
Gandhi’s gesture on Tuesday came barely days after Swaraj accused her of instigating Congress MPs to disrupt her speech in Parliament and was seen as an attempt to mend fences with the principal opposition party.
With the Opposition disrupting Parliament, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government is struggling to get key bills such as food security and land acquisition passed before the Budget Session ends on May 10.
Soon after Lok Sabha was adjourned, Gandhi approached Swaraj, who was walking towards Central Hall with Bharatiya Janata Party parliamentary party chief LK Advani and other MPs.
Both leaders walked together for some distance and the two spoke animatedly. BJP leaders, however, did not share what they spoke about.
Gandhi had recently walked up to Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav in the Lok Sabha and asked him with folded hands to give up his demand for steel minister Beni Prasad Verma’s resignation. Verma had accused Yadav of having sided with communal forces.
Earlier in the day, the UPA and the Opposition engaged in a bitter blame game over the food security bill in the Lok Sabha.
The Congress accused the BJP for stalling a bill that aims to end hunger and the BJP hit back, saying it wanted to end hunger people’s hunger, but first it wanted to end the Congress’ “hunger for ill-gotten money”.
The BJP stuck to its guns and sought the removal of railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and law minister Ashwani Kumar.
Chaos continued in the Parliament with the BJP stalling both Houses demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and ministers PK Bansal and Ashwani Kumar. The BJP said it would not allow the passage of any bill unless its demands were met.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, however, clarified that parliament would be allowed to run if Bansal and Ashwani Kumar step down.