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PM gives Maya food for thought
Numbers comfortable, says Kamal Nath 
Donít read too much into meeting, says BSP chief
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 11
Adopting a different approach in reaching out to leaders of political parties supporting the UPA government from outside, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today interacted with BSP supremo Mayawati.

Mayawati and her key aide and Rajya Sabha MP Satish Mishra met the Prime Minister and newly appointed Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath at an exclusive luncheon meeting at the PMís 7 RCR residence.

It came close on the heels of the dinner the PM hosted for Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav earlier this week. The two events mark a distinct shift from the earlier practice of hosting dinners for UPA partners where, at times, leaders of supporting parties were also invited.

Unlike previous occasions, the new plan, according to sources in the government, is that the Prime Minister will meet leaders in smaller groups. However, only a limited number of engagements can be held this way as the PM is scheduled to leave on a four-day visit to Japan on November 15.

On her part, Mayawati underplayed the significance of todayís meeting. She said it should not be seen from the prism of winter session of Parliament scheduled to commence on November 22.

That the government needs support from both the SP and the BSP as its estranged partner Trinamool Congress is threatening to move a no-confidence motion against the ruling coalition at the Centre.

Mayawati refused to clear her partyís likely stand on Trinamoolís proposed move. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, however, told a TV channel that the government was comfortable with numbers and that the BSP chief had promised to cooperate.

The government is likely to face turbulence during the five-week session as it plans to move key economic legislations, while the Opposition appears keen to pillory it over corruption and the Lokpal Bill.

Alliance recipe

In a shift from the past practice, the Prime Minister is meeting leaders of various political parties supporting the UPA government in smaller groups

Earlier this week, he hosted a dinner for Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav, who is also the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh

On Sunday, he held a luncheon meeting with BSP supremo Mayawati and her aide and Rajya Sabha MP Satish Mishra at his official residence

Support of the SP and the BSP is vital as UPAís estranged partner Trinamool Congress is threatening to bring a no-confidence motion against the govt

The five-week winter session of Parliament is scheduled to commence on November 22

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