PM reaches out to BJP, invites top party leaders to dinner today

FP

On Saturday, Singh will seek the main opposition party's cooperation to push the government's legislative business when he meets the BJP leaders, the sources said. While he is expected to engage them on the economic reform agenda, the issue of FDI in multi-brand retail — on which the BJP does not have any ideological differences with the Congress — will come up.

While accepting the invitation, the BJP, however, is unlikely to show any leeway to the government and climb down from its plan to corner the government. "Running the house is the responsibility of the ruling party. The obstinacy and the adamant attitude of the Congress is responsible for the disruptions. We want Parliament to function not for 60 days but 100 days as for us Parliament is the religion of democracy," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.

Singh's meeting with the BJP leadership as also his talks with parties supporting from outside is seen as an indication of the UPA's new-found willingness to reach out and engage with parties outside the UPA to steer its reform agenda. The dinner diplomacy will also deny the main opposition an opportunity to claim that it was not consulted.

With the SP and BSP yet to reveal their cards, the immediate concern for the government — which survives on a razor-thin majority after the Trinamool Congress walked out — still is plans by parties to seek a discussion and a vote in both houses of Parliament on allowing FDI in multi-brand retail.

The BJP has convened a meeting of its parliamentary party executive on November 20 to decide its strategy although NDA convenor Sharad Yadav has declared that the session will not be washed out. Despite the BJP's aggressive posture against FDI in multi-brand retail, signals from the NDA convenor and the Left suggest that non-BJP opposition parties may not push this beyond a point.

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