Sonia hugs Sushma, triggers rumours of backchannel talks
Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday reached out to the BJP leader in Parliament and walked with one hand on her shoulder, ostensibly to win support for the passage of crucial bills.
New Delhi: Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday hugged Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj in the Central Hall of Parliament. The two exchanged pleasantries and spoke for a few minutes. The meeting between the two came days after Sushma had attacked Sonia for destroying spirit of democracy. Last Friday, Swaraj had accused Sonia of instigating her MPs to disrupt her speech in the Lok Sabha.
Sonia, who has been under attack from Sushma, on Tuesday reached out to the BJP leader in Parliament and walked with one hand on her shoulder, ostensibly to win support for the passage of crucial bills.
Soon after Lok Sabha was adjourned, Sushma was walking towards Central Hall with BJP Parliamentary Party chief LK Advani and other MPs when Sonia approached her and put her one arm on the Leader of the Opposition's shoulder. The duo walked together for some distance.
The MPs, who were witness to this new camaraderie between Sonia and Sushma, said the two leaders talked animatedly with each other. BJP leaders were, however, tight-lipped about the subject of the conversation.
Sonia's gesture appears as a bid for a rapprochement with the main Opposition as the ruling party wants the Food Security and the Land Acquisition Bills passed in Parliament before the Budget Session ends on May 10. BJP supports these Bills in principle and would give its nod if certain amendments are incorporated.
The Congress President's move came as a surprise to many. Earlier Sushma had said it had been agreed that she will enumerate reasons for BJP's boycott of Parliament, following which BJP will stage a walkout to facilitate passage of the Finance Bill.
However, interruptions by Union ministers had made Sushma angry and she blamed Sonia for it. "I was disrupted 60 times in three minutes," Sushma had said.
Sonia is known for reaching out to other parties. Earlier in this session, she had surprised her own party colleagues when she walked up to SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav in Lok Sabha and asked him with folded hands to give up his demand for Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma's resignation.
Verma had accused Yadav of having sided with communal forces and that he took money to support the government from outside.
(With additional information from PTI)