Deadlock on, Sonia Gandhi reaches out to Sushma Swaraj

Sonia Sushma AdvaniCongress president Sonia Gandhi in conversation with BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and L K Advani.

Even as parliament remained deadlocked, with the BJP continuing to demand the resignations of union ministers Ashwani Kumar and Pawan Kumar Bansal, Congress president Sonia Gandhi reached out to Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday.

This comes a week after Swaraj attacked Sonia for "inciting" Congress members to interrupt her speech in the Lok Sabha.

Soon after Lok Sabha was adjourned today, Sonia quickened her pace to catch up with Swaraj, who was walking ahead of her with several BJP leaders in the Central Hall. Sonia tapped Swaraj on the shoulder, and when the latter turned around, she greeted her with a hug.

The two leaders exchanged pleasantries, but reportedly did not discuss any political issue. They walked a few steps together, before going their separate ways.

Meanwhile, both houses of parliament were adjourned today without transacting any business, as Opposition members stormed the well and shouted slogans. The BJP maintained that an end to the impasse was only possible if Railways Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Law Minister Ashwani Kumar resigned. While the party could continue to seek the Prime Minister's resignation, the demand could be dropped as a pre-condition for ending the disruption of proceedings.

"There is no question of participating in proceedings till the two ministers are removed. We want the National Food Security Bill and the Land Acquisition Bill to be passed after proper discussions, but we will not allow their hasty passage without discussion," said BJP deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde.

The government, which appeared determined to push through the National Food Security Bill yesterday, did not take it up today. Instead, it sounded out the BJP for a meeting to facilitate its passage.

Sources said the BJP had expressed its willingness to attend a meeting on the condition that it should be convened by either Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or Home Minister and Leader of the Lok Sabha Sushil Kumar Shinde. The party ruled out its participation if the meeting was called by either Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar or Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath.

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