New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tonight hosted a dinner for UPA leaders where DMK is understood to have insisted that government should avoid voting in Parliament on FDI in retail, making clear its reservation on the issue.
With this in mind, government is likely to propose to BJP a discussion on FDI in Parliament under rule 193 which does not entail voting.
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has convened an all-party meeting on November 21, a day before the Winter Session of Parliament starts, to discuss pressing issues.
Sources said that during the dinner meeting, DMK, the second largest group in UPA with its 18 MPs in Lok Sabha, has asked the government to avoid voting in Parliament on the crucial FDI issue.
The dinner for UPA leaders was aimed at firming up a joint strategy on various issues, including FDI in retail, which are likely to be raked by the Opposition in Parliament.
Leader of Lok Sabha and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde briefed the allies about the notices that have been given by various parties under different rules.
Singh's dinner comes close on the heels of his similar interactions with leaders of crucial outside supporters Samajwadi Party and BSP. He hosted dinner for SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh last week and followed it with lunch for BSP chief Mayawati on Sunday.
There is a view within the government that no business could be transacted on the first two days of the Winter Session of Parliament starting November 22, but it is hopeful that some solution will be found out and Parliament can have normal functioning from the following week.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath is learnt to have told the allies at today's dinner that it is being examined if a motion for or against a government's executive order can be voted or not by Parliament. The allies, however, did not raise any specific issue on FDI.
Besides UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Defence Minister A K Antony and Finance Minister P Chidambaram, among those who attended today's dinner included T R Balu of DMK, Farooq Abdullah of National Conference, Praful Patel of NCP, Ajit Singh of RLD and E Ahamed of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML).
The Prime Minister is reaching 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 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).
Trinamool Congress, which parted ways with UPA recently, has threatened to move a no-confidence motion against the government.
DMK chief M Karunanidhi has kept up the suspense on his party's stand on FDI. On whether DMK would support Left and some other parties' proposed resolution with provision for voting in Parliament on FDI, Karunanidhi said the party's views would be made known after consultations with Parliamentary Party members.
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.