Days before the winter session of Parliament, commencing on November 22, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a bid to reach out to the Opposition is hosting a dinner on Saturday to the top three BJP leaders in the Parliament.
Leaders of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha —Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley — and senior leader L.K. Advani will exchange notes on a range of subjects with the Prime Minister over dinner.
Even if nothing substantial comes out of it, the initiative would at least address the grievance of the principal Opposition party that the government goes ahead with decision on contentious issues without consulting political parties.
Though no agenda has been spelt out, clearly Dr. Singh would seek cooperation of the Opposition in ensuring smooth functioning of Parliament. The monsoon session of Parliament was a virtual wash out over the coal block allocations with the BJP demanding the Prime Minister’s resignation and cancellation of coal blocks.
The government is keen on pushing through long pending legislation to give a fillip to economic reforms and in the course of his dinner meeting could gauge the thinking of the Opposition on these bills.
The government and the Opposition have been indulging in blame game for Parliament disruption. The contention of the Opposition is that the ruling combine is not interested in running Parliament as it wants to run away from answering inconvenient questions on charges of corruption and misgovernance.
The UPA managers have been harping on the theme that the Opposition is obstructionist and has nothing better to do than. It is to be watched if the PM’s move would help in gulfing the bridge between the two sides.