The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mulayam invites Aruns

New Delhi, Nov. 12: The Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh has sent out invitations to Union ministers Arun Jaitley and Arun Shourie of the BJP to address its ministers and bureaucrats on November 27 on divestment.

A senior state government official said the law and commerce minister and the communications and disinvestment minister, respectively, — both regarded as the “pro-reforms” face of the Vajpayee government — were first “informally” sounded out. “Once they agreed, the date was fixed according to mutual convenience,” the official said.

While neither Jaitley nor Shourie was available for comments, BJP sources said “conceptually” there is nothing wrong in accepting such an invitation. While political circles in the capital are wondering whether it is another sign of the “bonhomie” between the two parties, the sources made it clear that the BJP would take a final view considering its political implications.

“In the past, Jaitley accepted an invitation from the Congress government in Karnataka to address an investors’ conference and next week, he is supposed to go to Bengal on the request of the chief minister in connection with a project for a special economic zone. There is nothing wrong in government-to-government relations and if a state government, even an Opposition one, makes a request, why should the Centre not accept it'”

It was stressed that in the “spirit of federalism” the NDA experiment was supposed to embody, it made “perfect political sense” to break bread with all parties, especially those opposed to the BJP earlier.

The Uttar Pradesh official said the ministers are being invited as “the government wants to hasten the process of disinvestment to overcome the serious financial crunch facing the state”.

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