PM breaks bread with Mulayam, Akhilesh for winter session thaw

With the BJP refusing to engage with the government on economic reforms, claiming that the Congress-led UPA is in minority after the Trinamool Congress (TMC) pulled out of it, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has decided to reach out to allies, including those extending outside support to the government. The move comes ahead of the winter session of Parliament starting later this month.

As the first step, the Prime Minister held a meeting with SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav over dinner on Friday. Others who were present were NC leader and New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath and the SP chief's son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar was also invited but had to skip due to prior engagements outside Delhi.

The Prime Minister is likely to hold a separate meeting with BSP supremo Mayawati on Sunday along with leaders of other UPA partners, including the DMK.

Sources said the meetings have been organised at the behest of Nath to keep the allies in the loop over government's legislative agenda.

Though the winter session is slated to begin on November 22, the series of meetings have been scheduled earlier given the Prime Minister's scheduled visit abroad next week.

While the Prime Minister rang up BJP parliamentary party chairman L K Advani on Thursday to wish him on his birthday, Nath is likely to touch base with the BJP leadership closer to the session after the Prime Minister returns.

Meeting with the SP chief holds significance in the wake of the fact that the TMC is contemplating bringing a resolution, which could even be a no-confidence motion against the government, in the forthcoming session to corner the government on the issue of tough economic measures that include diesel price hike, reduction in cooking gas subsidies and the move to allow FDI in retail.

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