Meetings, wooing continue as countdown begins for trust vote

July 19th, 2008 - 2:44 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) With the ruling and opposition parties counting each vote ahead of Tuesday’s confidence motion in parliament, both sides were holding hectic parleys in the national capital Saturday to re-confirm the loyalty of their supporters and woo the fence sitters, who now hold the key to the government’s survival. Both sides are leaving no stone unturned to ensure their victory.

While Congress president Sonia Gandhi began meeting her party MPs state wise at her 10 Janpath residence to take stock of the situation in the states, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) central committee also met to finalise its strategy for the debate on the trust motion.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has intensified its attempts to defeat the Congress-led government, is holding a dinner for its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners Saturday to ensure that its flock is intact.

Both sides continued their efforts to woo the five-member Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM). Although there was speculation that the JMM leader and former coal minister Shibu Soren as also Uttar Pradesh veteran Ajit Singh would be sworn in Saturday to join the Manmohan Singh cabinet, party sources said any such move could take place only after the trust motion. Ajit Singh, Rashtriya Lok Dal chief, has three MPs in the Lok Sabha.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati is camping in the national capital in an apparent move to woo the smaller parties and single-member parties to persuade them to defeat the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). She is scheduled to meet Telangana Rashtra Samiti leader K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who will also meet Communist Party of India (CPI) general secretary A.B. Bardhan during the day. The TRS has announced that its three members will vote against the government.

Although there are clear differences among the three Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) MPs, party leader and former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda said he would announce the JD-S stand after his scheduled meeting with Manmohan Singh Saturday. However, the JD-S leader in the Lok Sabha, M.P. Veerendra Kumar has announced that the party will vote against the trust motion.

During the CPI-M central committee meeting, the party leadership will explain to members the developments that led to the Left’s decision to withdraw its legislative support to the UPA government. The apex committee is also expected to discuss the post-trust vote scenario.

The central committee is expected to discuss the action that should be taken against party MP and Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, who reportedly refused to go by the party directive to step down in the wake of the CPI-M withdrawing support to the government.

When the Lok Sabha meets Monday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will move a motion seeking the confidence of the house in his government.

The Congress whips have been asked to give the names of the speakers they want in the two-day long debate. The list will be handed over to Gandhi and after she finalises the names it will be handed over to the speaker’s office.

According to party sources, Gandhi may not speak, but Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi is likely to take part in the discussions.

Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram are also expected to speak during the debate.

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