PM invites allies for dinner to blunt Oppn

Govt trying to wriggle out of FDI in retail muddle

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has invited all the UPA leaders for dinner at his residence on Friday to seek their support to counter the Opposition’s onslaught on contentious issues like FDI in retail.

With the winter session of Parliament expected to be a stormy affair, Singh is reaching out to the UPA allies. The Opposition parties have issued notices to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar for bringing motions against the UPA government, including one that entails voting on FDI in multi-brand retail.

While the Left parties have tabled a motion that will seek a vote on FDI, the BJP and its ally, JD (U), have given notices for a discussion in Parliament, both under Rule 184 that entails voting and Rule 193 which is only meant for a debate.

Trinamool Congress MP Shatabdi Roy has also given notice under rule 184 on the same issue.

Besides, the government faces threats of a possible no-confidence motion by the TMC, which pulled out of the UPA coalition to register its protest against FDI and cap on LPG cylinders.

The meeting of UPA leaders is crucial for the Congress as “suspense” looms over the DMK’s stand on FDI, cap on LPG cylinders and diesel price hike. DMK, a key ally, has expressed resentment over the issues.

Party patriarch M Karunanidhi has said DMK’s views will be made known after consultation with the Parliamentary Party members. It’s support is crucial for the UPA in case of voting, since DMK is its second largest coalition partner with 18 MPs in the Lok Sabha.

 Amid speculations that relations between the Congress and the DMK were souring, Home Minister P Chidambaram recently met Karunanidhi in Chennai.

Meanwhile, the Congress has also made efforts to reach out to the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, both outside supporters of the UPA.

Last week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hosted a dinner for SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh, the incumbent chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.
He later met BSP supremo Mayawati over lunch on Sunday,

Although both SP and BSP leaders have remained silent on their support to the government, senior Congress leaders claimed that Yadav and Mayawati will stand by the UPA.

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