PM cancels dinner with BJP troika

In the wake of Bal Thackeray’s death, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has cancelled the dinner with Bhartiya Janata Party leaders.

But the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government is likely to continue its efforts to reach out to the top brass of the principal opposition party ahead of the winter session of Parliament.

Singh cancelled the dinner in the wake of Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray’s death in Mumbai. He had invited the BJP veteran L K Advani and the party heavyweights Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, who lead the opposition in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha respectively.

As the prime minister is leaving for Cambodian capital Phnom Penh on Sunday for a three-day tour, it is still not clear if he would host the BJP troika on a later date.

He would return to New Delhi on Tuesday and the winter session of Parliament would start on Thursday. Though he could host the BJP top brass on Wednesday, sources said that a final call on this would be taken later.

The dinner on Saturday was a part of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government’s efforts to reach out to the BJP ahead of the parliamentary session and to seek the principal opposition party’s support to ensure smooth sailing of some crucial bills, including the much-debated Lokpal Bill and the Land Acquisition Bill.  

But soon after Thackeray was declared dead in Mumbai, Swaraj called up the prime minister and said that she and her party colleagues were saddened by the Shiv Sena chief’s demise and would not be able to attend the dinner. The prime minister cancelled the dinner on her request.

The BJP Parliamentary Board is likely to meet on November 20 to finalise its strategy for the winter session of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, including its approach on the no-confidence motion being moved by the Trinamool Congress on the issue of allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in the multi-brand retail sector.

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