Mayawati histrionics put BJP on back foot

July 21st, 2008 - 7:10 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 21 (IANS) The distinct buzz in the corridors of parliament, as it assembled Monday for a special two-day session to decide the fate of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government, was that the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would like it to continue in office. This was because of the histrionics of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati over the past two days, stealing the thunder from the BJP and the Left in their efforts to pull down the government over the India-US civilian nuclear deal.

“It’s like this: if the government falls, it will not be the Left or the BJP that will be able to claim credit but Mayawati, thanks to her machinations over the past few days,” a senior minister was overheard saying.

Mayawati has been able to wean away at least six MPs - three each from the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Janata Dal-Secular - that the ruling United Progressive Alliance considered as part of its flock.

This apart, Mayawati has been attempting to engineer defections in the Samajwadi Party that pledged its support to the government after the Left pulled out, triggering the trust vote.

One more indication of the BJP’s stance is the remarkable restraint shown by its MPs in the Lok Sabha. Unlike in the past, when they were on their feet at the drop of a hat, they have largely refrained from doing so this time, in spite of being provided several openings by speakers from the treasury benches.

This apart, many Congress MPs are confidently predicting the government would get at least 280 “ayes”, eight more than the required 272, when the trust motion is put to vote Tuesday.

This would happen if the BJP and Akali Dal MPs abstained when voting takes place, it was explained.

The 545-member Lok Sabha has an effective strength of 542. This is because there are two vacancies, one member - P.C. Thomas of the Kerala Congress - has been barred from voting and the speaker normally does not vote except in the case of a tie.

The government needs 272 votes to survive. This figure, however, could be even lower because it depends on the number of members present and voting.

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