On Friday, Prime Minister hosted dinner for Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam

As the government braces itself for a stormy winter session of Parliament, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday had a luncheon meeting with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati.

This comes on the heels of a dinner he hosted for Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh on Friday to seek support for the smooth functioning of Parliament in the face of former ally Trinamool Congress’ plan to bring a no-confidence motion against the government on the issue of FDI in multi-brand retail.

SP-BSP vote crucial

The meetings are seen as an effort by the UPA government to reach out to the parties lending outside support to it. Votes of the SP and the BSP, which have 22 and 21 members respectively in the Lok Sabha, have become crucial after the Trinamool, with 19 members, walked out of the UPA on the FDI issue.

The session begins on November 22.

Lokpal and other Bills

The Prime Minister, who is embarking on a six-day foreign tour from November 15, is also likely to reach out to UPA allies for better floor coordination as several crucial issues are expected to be taken up in this session. Not only has Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee threatened to bring a no-confidence motion against the government on FDI in retail, but contentious legislations such as the Lokpal Bill, the National Food Security Bill and the Judicial Accountability Bill are also hanging fire.

Already social activist Anna Hazare has declared that he will go on fast if the government fails to bring a strong and effective Lokpal before the 2014 general elections. The Food Security Bill also faces stiff opposition from the Right to Food Campaign, a conglomeration of several NGOs.

On top of it, the Opposition will try to corner the government in the matter of black money stashed away in banks abroad — an issue which has recently been dragged centre-stage by India Against Corruption.

Routine event: Mayawati

Ms. Mayawati was mostly evasive as she emerged from her luncheon meeting with the Prime Minister. She described the meeting as a routine political event that should not be linked to the Parliament session alone.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, who was present at the two meetings, told journalists that the government expected Parliament to function smoothly and important Bills would be passed.

On her party’s stand if the Trinamool were to bring a no-confidence motion against the government, Ms. Mayawati said she had spoken about it in her party rally in Lucknow on October 9. She had then declared that FDI in retail should benefit farmers; if not, her party would decide what stand to take.

Ms. Mayawati said her party had authorised her to take a decision on supporting the UPA but she had not taken a call yet.

She raised the demand for early passage of the Bill for reservation in promotions for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in government jobs, which is scheduled to be taken up in Parliament this session.

“The winter session is beginning on November 22 and we will raise this issue again. That Bill has been cleared by the Cabinet and it came to the Rajya Sabha when only two-three days of the last session were left,” Ms. Mayawati said.

The party would review the situation at a meeting of its Parliamentary Board on November 20 or 21, BSP sources told The Hindu.

PMO sources said a dinner meeting on Sunday with leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party and the Dravida Munnetra Kazagham was cancelled as NCP chief Sharad Pawar was away.

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