A day after defeat, opposition vows to fight on (Combines Third Front and BJP stories)

July 23rd, 2008 - 6:47 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) The Indian opposition put up a brave face Wednesday after suffering a bruising defeat in a parliament trust vote which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government won to take ahead the India-US nuclear deal. At separate venues, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) - leader of the new Third Front that includes the Left - as well as Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani dismissed the government’s victory Tuesday evening as a dubious one.

In a hurried decision taken after a meeting of its leaders, the BJP announced the expulsion of eight MPs who voted for the Congress-led government or kept away from parliament. It also announced protest demonstrations all over the country against the government for engineering what it said was a dubious victory.

“The UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government may have won the trust vote but the way it was saved showed the vote was a defeat for democracy, a murder of democracy,” Mayawati told a news conference after a breakfast meeting attended by leaders of the Left, Telugu Desam Party’s (TDP) N. Chandrababu Naidu, former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda of the Janata Dal-Secular and Ajit Singh of Rashtriya Janata Dal.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat, seated next to Mayawati, said the government had “lost the trust of the nation” by the “immoral manner in which they engineered the win”.

The reference was to the decision of some opposition MPs to vote for the government or to stay away from parliament and the earlier dramatic display of wads of currency by three BJP MPs who claimed they got it from the Samajwadi Party, which wanted them to abstain during the trust vote.

Karat said the Third Front constituents - which say they are neutral of both the Congress and the BJP - had formed a national level committee to campaign against “pressing issues” such as price rise, farmers’ suicides, the nuclear deal, “communal forces and the politicisation of the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation)”.

TDP’s Naidu said the opposition would have won Tuesday’s trust vote if the UPA had not “engineered abstentions, cross-voting and manipulated the vote”. One TDP MP voted for the UPA while another abstained.

BJP star Advani came down heavily on the government.

“I am in a position to say that this cross voting, if that had not taken place, then yesterday evening the UPA would not have won,” he said. “It is a tainted victory. July 22 will be considered a black day.”

The eight MPs who the BJP expelled are Brij Bhushan Singh (Balrampur, Uttar Pradesh), Somabhai Patel (Surendnagar, Gujarat), K. Manjunath (Dharwad South, Karnataka) and H.T. Sangliana (Bangalore North) - all of who cross-voted - as well as Manorama Madhwaraj (Udupi, Karnataka), Chandrabhan Singh (Damoh, Madhya Pradesh), Harisingh Rathod (Yavatmal, Maharashtra) and Babubhai Katara (Dohad, Gujarat).

Advani said the government’s attempt to buy over opposition MPs in its desperation to stay in power had sullied the image of the Indian parliament. “The whole thing is so scandalous that it reeks of muck.”

Advani compared what happened in parliament Tuesday to the Bofors corruption scandal that led to the defeat of the Congress government in the 1989 Lok Sabha polls.

“I would like to congratulate those three (BJP) MPs (that) they put their case in parliament. It is a serious matter. I want speaker (Somnath Chatterjee) to quickly investigate the matter. There should be no delay.”

BJP president Rajnath Singh announced that the BJP would organise from Thursday protests all over the country against the UPA government’s victory in the trust vote and rallies in all state capitals July 27.

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