After hosting Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Friday, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday invited Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati for lunch, apparently in an apparent bid to firm up support of the outside allies in Parliament.
While it expects to be cornered on a variety of issues ini the upcoming Parliamentary session, both the government and Mayawati dismissed questions that the engagement with the parties from Uttar Pradesh were an attempt to enlist their backing in the coming winter session beginning on November 22.
The lunch for Mayawati, whose party with 21 members in the Lok Sabha, came just days after the prime minister hosted a dinner for Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son and UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. SP has 22 members in the Lok Sabha. The meetings assume signficance after Trinamool Congress, having 19 members in the Lok Sabha, pulled out of the UPA and is planning to move a no confidence motion against the government on FDI in retail and other issues.
After the meeting, Mayawati told the media not to link the lunch with the Prime Minister with the winter session saying she keeps meeting the Prime Minister on occasions because her party was supporting the government and lunches and dinners were nothing new. Asked about her stand on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's statement on the no confidence motion, she remained evasive.
"I have spoken about this in detail in our party rally in Lucknow on October 9. We will take whatever steps necessary keeping in mind what we had said in that rally," Mayawati said.
"Whenever such a situation crops up, ask us this question but why do you want our response in advance," she retorted, adding that her party members have authorised her to take a final decision on supporting the UPA. She has, however, not taken a call on the issue so far.
Mayawati had also hinted at early Lok Sabha polls and asked her party cadres to remain prepared. However, opposition parties linked the Prime Minister's meetings with the allied leaders to the "difficult" situation faced by the government because of the decisions taken during the intersession period including FDI in retail, LPG cap and a slew of economic reforms measures.
The government was worried about its fate in view of the "anti-people" decisions and was taking steps to ensure support, said CPI leader D Raja. BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said the government's true ally was CBI which it uses to ensure support of political parties.
Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath said during today's lunch Mayawati said that she would like to cooperate with the government. "We have worked together with the SP and the BSP and in the Parliament session and we believe that for issues which are so important to the country, we will have support from all parties including the BJP," he said.
On Banerjee's threat on FDI, he said, "We are comfortable with the numbers. I think, we know that very well and other parties also know that very well.