Congress in numbers game but confident (Lead)

July 9th, 2008 - 8:08 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil

New Delhi, July 9 (IANS) Hours after the Left exited with 59 MPs and claimed the government was in a minority, the Congress asserted Wednesday that it would win any trust vote in the Lok Sabha. Shortly after the four Left parties met President Pratibha Patil, the Samajwadi Party pledged the support of its 39 MPs to the India-US nuclear deal and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s beleaguered government.

But Congress leaders insisted that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government would win a floor test in parliament.

“We are sure we can prove our majority in the Lok Sabha. We are working on it. We will prove it when the president directs us,” a confident Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi told IANS.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram ruled out any crisis at the first place. “We strongly believe we have the support. Elections will be held as per schedule, by April or May 2009,” he told reporters in Chennai.

Added Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari: “We have the numbers and if there is a need, we will prove the majority.”

Congress president Sonia Gandhi convened a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) Friday to finalise its strategies.

According to Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that broke ties with the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir and the state’s National Conference, which have one and two MPs respectively, have offered to support to the Manmohan Singh government.

Although the MDMK chief Vaiko declared his four MPs will not back the nuclear deal, at least one of them, L. Ganeshan, said that he might defy the whip.

Vaiko’s declaration from the US has made the numbers game that much more trickier for the UPA, which has 226 MPs without the support of the Samajwadi Party.

Rumours are rife that at least five of the Samajwadi Party’s 39 MPs would not join them in extending its legislative party.

Two Samajwadi Party MPs have announced their decision to defy the party whip and vote against the government.

Even if all the 39 MPs were to support the UPA in a trust vote, the government would have 265 votes — seven short of the magic halfway figure of 272.

The Congress is banking on the smaller parties, some of which are yet to make up their mind.

They include the Trinamool Congress (1), Janata Dal-Secular (3), All India Majlis-e-ittehadul Muslimmen (1) and Indian Union Muslim League (1).

Among the three Janata Dal-S MPs, M.P. Virendra Kumar from Kerala is not expected to vote in favour of the government.

Apart from the Congress’ 153 MPs, the UPA has Rashtriya Janata Dal (24), DMK (16), Nationalist Congress Party (11), PMK (6), Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (5), Lok Janshakti Party (4) and some smaller parties.

Of the six independents, former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi - now in the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha - and Kerala’s Sebastian Paul will vote against the government, political sources said.

It is not clear how S.K Bwiswmuthiary, who told IANS that he had not made up his mind, Mani Charenamai, Thupstan Chhewang and Harish Nagpal will vote.

The three-MP Telangana Rashtra Samiti said it would not mind supporting the government if the government announces the creation of separate state of Telangana.

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