Bal Thackeray dead; PM cancels dinner with BJP leaders
New Delhi: In view of Shiv Sena Supremo Balasaheb Thackeray`s death, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cancelled dinner with BJP leaders that was to be held today.
The decision to cancel dinner at PM`s residence was taken on BJP`s leader Sushma Swaraj`s request.
Bal Thackeray breathed his last on Saturday at around 3.30pm after protracted illness at his home ‘Matoshree’ in suburban Mumbai. His demise was announced by his doctor Jaleel Parkar.
Thousands of Shiv Sainiks had been standing in vigil outside his home in upscale Bandra East area of Mumbai for the last 72 hours as the news got out about Thackeray`s failing health.
Thackeray had been keeping unwell for some time and had been under the care of a team of doctors from the Leelavati Hospital.
Dinner diplomacy was high on the agenda of leaders of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), for after playing host to allies on Friday. The UPA is in search of BJP`s support on the issue of FDI in retail ahead of the Winter Session of Parliament.
The Indian Express reported that among those invited were senior BJP leader LK Advani, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley.
Amidst vociferous opposition by non-UPA parties, the dinner was seen as a last ditch effort by the Congress to ensure smooth functioning of the Winter Session.
The Monsoon Session had been washed out due to protests over corruption charges by the BJP.
The BJP is preparing to corner the government on issues like FDI in retail, corruption charges, hike in diesel price and cap on subsidised LPG cylinders during the Winter Session beginning on November 22.
The dinner invitation came in the wake of the Prime Minister`s attempts to reach out to allies and outside supporters as the government faces the prospect of a motion entailing voting on FDI and even a possible threat of a No-Confidence Motion.
The Left parties have tabled a motion that will seek a vote on FDI. The main opposition BJP, its ally JD(U) as also Trinamool Congress, which parted ways with the UPA few months back on the issue, have also given notices.
Those from the Opposition who have given notices include Shatabdi Roy (TMC), Ramesh Bais, A T Nana Patil, Hansraj Ahir (all BJP) and Rajiv Ranjan Singh (JD-U).
To add to the government`s discomfiture, sulking ally DMK has declined to disclose its stand on how it would vote either on such motions or the No-Confidence Motion, likely to be moved by Trinamool Congress.
On Wednesday, DMK chief M Karunanidhi said in Chennai that his party`s stand on the FDI issue will be revealed later.
Asked whether DMK would support Left and some other parties` proposed resolution with provision for voting in Parliament on FDI, he had said the party`s views would be made known after consultations with Parliamentary Party members.
The support of DMK, the second largest group in UPA with its 18 MPs in Lok Sabha, is crucial for the UPA in case of a voting on a motion.
At present, the government enjoys the support of about 265 MPs, including DMK, in a house of 545. With the support of Samajwadi Party (22) and BSP (21), the backing for the ruling coalition goes a little over 300, which is comfortable over the required 273 majority mark in Lok Sabha.
BSP and SP together or individually have not shown signs of withdrawing support so far.
Mayawati, who has hinted at the possibility of early polls, had remained vague on her party`s stand on FDI issue after her lunch with the Prime Minister.
(With PTI inputs)
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