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With arm around Sushma's shoulder, Sonia reaches out

Tuesday May 07, 2013 11:36:40 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: In a rare gesture, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi Tuesday reached out to BJP leader Sushma Swaraj by placing her arm around her shoulder and walking a few steps with her in the parliament corridor.

In what can be viewed as an attempt to win over the Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, who has been very aggressive in her attack against Gandhi and the ruling UPA, the Congress president greeted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader when she was going to the Central Hall with senior colleague L.K. Advani and other MPs.

A smiling Gandhi exchanged a few pleasantries with the opposition leaders and then started speaking to Sushma Swaraj.

As they began walking, Gandhi then placed one arm on Sushma Swaraj's shoulder. They walked together for some distance in that manner, continuing their discussion, said informed sources.

Sushma Swaraj was pleasantly surprised by the Congress president's friendly overtures.

The sources however did not reveal what the two leaders discussed.

The hostile opposition has been stalling parliament over a host of issues, including corruption allegations against Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal. They are also demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over his government's involvement in a series of corruption allegations, including 2G, coal block allocations.

The Congress needs the opposition support to push through the crucial Land Acquisition Bill and the Food Security Bill in the parliament - the two big ticket reforms of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government as it readies to face the ballot next year.

The Congress also wants the crucial bills to be passed before the parliament session ends May 10.

Sushma Swaraj had last week accused Gandhi of instigating her party MPs to disrupt parliament when she was speaking in the Lok Sabha.

This is not the first time Gandhi has reached out to political adversaries.

Just after the parliament session began, she reached out to an angry Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav to mollify him with folded hands to give up his demand for Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma's resignation.

The minister had accused the Samajwadi Party leader of having sided with communal forces and that he had taken money to support the Congress-led government from outside.






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