Jaitley fails to attend BJP delegations meeting with PM

New Delhi: Amid speculations of a rift between them, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley on Thursday failed to join his Lok Sabha counterpart Sushma Swaraj during a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue of Indian sailors held captive by Somali pirates.

Swaraj and Deputy Leader of BJP in Rajya Sabha S S Ahluwalia met the Prime Minister along with the family members of the 12 sailors abducted by Somali pirates.

Party sources said Jaitley, who was to be a part of this delegation, was busy with the Central Election Committee meeting to choose the candidates for Assam. Jaitley is in-charge of the state.

This was another embarrassment for Swaraj — who has already been isolated in BJP on the CVC issue after party president Nitin Gadkari toed Jaitley`s line and said the issue was not closed as he too was not satisfied with the Prime Minister`s clarification.

Moreover, Swaraj had tweeted that Jaitley will also be a part of the delegation meeting the Prime Minister to demand that government take steps for immediate release of the Indian sailors.

After the meeting with the Prime Minister, Swaraj kept silent on Jaitley`s absence but tweeted that Manmohan Singh had assured the delegation that "the government will do everything possible for their safe return to the country".

Government sources said the Prime Minister told the family members that the Indian government was working with various other governments for the release of the sailors.

Earlier, Swaraj, who had taken the initiative in seeking appointments with the Prime Minister and the Lok Sabha Speaker, led the family members of the sailors for a meeting with Meira Kumar in the Parliament House complex.

After the meeting, Swaraj told reporters that the Speaker had given them a patient hearing and the meeting was positive. She had pleaded the case of these family members with the Speaker.

Sources said when the ladies narrated their vows, some of those present broke down.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna told Parliament earlier in the day that the government would do everything possible to get the sailors released but cautioned against emotive response as it could endanger their lives.