"Finally, we are convinced that a nation of nearly 100 crore people representing a sixth of humanity cannot be governed on the arithmetic alone of majority and minority.... We will, therefore, strive to develop national consensus on all major issues confronting the nation by involving the opposition parties and all sections of society in dialogue."
—NDA election manifesto, 1999
As Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee prepares to meet Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, the government has belatedly initiated a process of political consultations with a clutch of political leaders. On June 28, Vajpayee met former prime ministers V.P. Singh and P.V. Narasimha Rao. Subsequently, an all-party meet has been convened in Agra for July 9, a week before the summit, to apprise the Opposition of the reasons why Musharraf has been invited over for talks.
Ironically, Pakistani high commissioner Ashraf Jehangir Qazi was first off the block, meeting Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, former prime ministers and a host of Opposition stalwarts and luminaries, even before Vajpayee...