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Ahead of Budget, PM to Meet Opposition Today

Modi has convened a meeting of leaders of all major political parties in an obvious bid to reach out and ensure smooth functioning of Parliament.

Published: 16th February 2016 04:39 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th February 2016 04:39 AM   |  A+A-

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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. | File Reuters

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has convened a meeting of leaders of all major political parties on Tuesday morning, barely a week before Budget session begins, in an obvious bid to reach out to them and ensure smooth functioning of Parliament.

According to official sources, Modi has invited leaders of major parties in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. At least 30 leaders from various parties are expected to attend the meeting at his office in South Block.  The Budget session is expected to be stormy with the Opposition gearing up to corner the government on a host of issues like the National Herald case, President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh, Rohith Vemula suicide and the ongoing JNU controversy.

Though sources indicated it is not an all-party meeting and the bills the government seeks to introduce or pass will not be discussed, the exercise is aimed at seeking cooperation for the smooth functioning of Budget session in the backdrop of the virtual washout of proceedings in the last two sessions. “Discussion on the ongoing crisis which erupted after the arrest of the student leaders of JNU is also expected,” said an official.

Significantly, this is the first such meeting convened by the Prime Minister who has come under attack from a section of the Opposition, especially the Congress, which has accused him of being hell-bent on confrontation and failing to take other parties into confidence. Government managers have time and again maintained that the key GST bill was on the top of the agenda in the three-month-long session which starts on February 23. The meeting also comes close on the heels of the Prime Minister accusing Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi of disrupting Parliament to avenge their defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

The Congress chief had hit back, alleging that efforts were being made to “suppress her party’s voice” whenever it tried to raise issues concerning the poor in the House.

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