With barely 10 days left for the winter session of Parliament to begin, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has swung into action to rally support from allies.
Today, Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) chief and former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP) Mayawati was invited for lunch at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s residence. Last Friday, the prime minister had hosted a dinner for Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
Both BSP and SP provide external support to the UPA government at the Centre.
The UPA needs the crucial support of all its allies to tackle a combative opposition over its recent economic reforms, including foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail.
In the coming days, the PM is also likely to meet up with UPA allies, such Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK), the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) of the UPA, possibly through the mechanism of the UPA coordination committee.
Ever since the Trinamool Congress (TMC) pulled out of the UPA in September, the ruling alliance has been wary of its depleted numbers.
It is now heavily dependent on the outside support rendered by both the BSP and SP, hence the renewed efforts by the Prime Minister to strengthen the UPA.
What will make this session crucial is the fact that the government will have to face the onslaught of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is keen to go all out in attacking the UPA over the recent economic reforms.
In addition to this, former ally turned foe, the TMC, has already threatened to move a no-confidence motion against the government.
BSP chief Mayawati told reporters after her luncheon at 7, Race Course Road (Prime Minister’s residence): “This is not the first time that the PM has invited me. The winter session will be starting soon, but this should not be linked to the Parliamentary session. We are a political party and such interactions keep happening.”
Mayawati was, however, evasive when asked pointedly about her party’s stand on FDI in retail.
However, the newly-appointed Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said, “She has assured us of cooperation.”
With the winter session beginning on November 22, the UPA will need to have all its allies intact, if it has to garner the magic figure of 272. After the TMC’s pullout, the UPA has 253 MPs.