Today's Paper

PM invites Sonia to lead team

NEW DELHI, DEC. 30. The Trinamool Congress leader, Ms. Mamata Banerjee's random suggestion that the Leader of the Opposition, Ms. Sonia Gandhi, be invited to attend the SAARC summit along with the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, was readily agreed to by the Government at the all-party meeting here today. The idea was also supported by Mr. A.B. Bardhan of the CPI.

Though it was pointed out that SAARC conventions did not permit this, the Government said it would only be too happy if Ms. Gandhi agreed to lead a delegation to some important country.

The offer was made by none other than Mr. Vajpayee himself. Taking the cue from Ms. Banerjee, he said the Government would be happy if Ms. Gandhi and other Opposition leaders agreed to lead one of the delegations. He even asked the leaders to permit their MPs to take part in the delegations the Government proposed to send abroad.

The External Affairs Minister, Mr. Jaswant Singh, said he had broached the idea to the Congress leader, Dr. Manmohan Singh, and had requested him to lead one of the delegations. The Opposition leaders agreed with the suggestion, though it is not certain if Ms. Gandhi will be able to spare time since the Assembly elections to four crucial States have been announced. She is not only the main campaigner for her party, but also has to oversee the ticket distribution process.

Recommended for you