Government confident, Bardhan alleges ‘money power’

July 14th, 2008 - 8:17 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) The Congress-led government Monday asserted it was confident of winning the trust vote in the Lok Sabha over the India-US nuclear deal even as Communist leader A.B. Bardhan accused it of trying to win over MPs by offering them money. “We are going to win the trust vote with a comfortable majority,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi told IANS, with just a week left for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to prove it still enjoys majority support in the 545-seat Lok Sabha.

Although sure of winning in parliament, Congress leaders privately admit that the number game is proving to be not that easy.

The Congress has 153 MPs in the Lok Sabha. Another member, Indrakaran Reddy, who has won a by-election from Andhra Pradesh, will take oath July 21.

The Congress says it has the support of Rashtriya Janata Dal (24), DMK (16), Nationalist Congress Party (11), PMK (6), Lok Janshakti Party (4) and seven other MPs.

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (5) has announced it will decide which way to vote July 19. But one of the MPs attended the UPA meeting last week at Manmohan Singh’s residence, an indication that the JMM might eventually go the Congress way.

Congress sources also said that apart from the Samajwadi Party’s 37 MPs, the National Conference (2 MPs), Rashtriya Lok Dal (3) and four independents will also vote in favour of the UPA.

They expect Trinamool Congress’ Mamata Banerjee and Telangana Rashtra Samiti’s (TRS) three MPs to abstain. But the TRS announced Sunday it will vote against the deal if the government does not promise to help form a separate Telangana state.

“Our calculations are we will get 276 votes against the 260 of the opposition. It will be a comfortable majority,” said a senior Congress leader. The majority is counted on the basis of the total MPs present and voting.

The National Democratic Alliance (169) the Left parties (59) and others who would vote against the trust motion would be 260, according to Congress leaders.

As both sides marshal their forces, Communist Party of India (CPI) general secretary Bardhan accused the government of indulging in “horse trading” to muster the numbers on its side.

Addressing here a public rally to mark the launch of the Left’s campaign against the nuclear deal and the UPA policies, Bardhan alleged that “one MP costs Rs.25 crore (Rs.250 million) in the market”.

The Congress was quick to react.

Minister Ravi said: “Such a statement was never expected from a leader like Bardhan. He has insulted all the MPs. He should have been more responsible.”

The Congress also reacted sharply to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L. K. Advani’s remarks calling the government “power brokers”.

“Before raising fingers at us, they should look at themselves. Their national president was caught on camera taking bribe,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters, referring to former BJP president Bangaru Laxman.

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