UPA confident of winning trust vote July 22 (Roundup)

July 12th, 2008 - 1:07 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 11 (IANS) The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Friday expressed confidence that it would win a trust vote in parliament July 22 forced by the loss of Left support over the India-US nuclear deal. The cabinet committee on political affairs, at a meeting here presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, decided to take up the voting during a two-day parliament session that will end July 22.

After his return from Japan, where he met US President George W. Bush on the sidelines of the G8 summit, Manmohan Singh met President Prathiba Patil Thursday evening and expressed the UPA government’s readiness to go for a floor test.

Allies of the Congress in the UPA met Friday morning at Manmohan Singh’s residence and expressed confidence that the government would survive the trust vote.

“The government stands by its commitment that it would face parliament before going to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Board of Governors,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi told IANS.

The government had stated that it would prove its majority in the 545-seat Lok Sabha before going to the IAEA to finalise the India-specific safeguards pact.

The UPA is confident of proving its numbers in the Lok Sabha.

“We have enough numbers to prove majority. We already have more than 280 members (which is eight more than the half-way mark 272 in the Lok Sabha) and we are trying to convince more members,” Minister Ravi said.

Congress sources claimed that apart from the 236 MPs in the UPA, it will get the support of 37 Samajwadi Party members, a few independents, two of the three Janata Dal-Secular MPs and its estranged ally Telangana Rashtra Samiti’s three members.

Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh said Manmohan Singh had not “compromised” on the India-Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project by pushing the nuclear deal with the US.

“The prime minister assured us there will be no compromise on India’s security and sovereignty,” Amar Singh told reporters after he and party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav met the prime minister.

This was the second meeting between the two Samajwadi Party leaders and the prime minister. The earlier meeting was July 4.

Briefing media persons, Amar Singh said there is “misinformation being spread that the prime minister was compromising on the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline issue”.

The $7.5 billion project is a proposed 2,775-km-long pipeline to deliver natural gas from Iran to Pakistan and India.

The prime minister also informed them about his discussions with US Congressman Gary Ackerman who was in India last week.

“The prime minister said he had told Ackerman that just as nuclear energy is important, gas energy is also important. He said the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline is very much required,” he said.

“He said we cannot under any circumstances spoil our relations with Iran or other nations. Our relations with the US have an important place but traditional relations with other countries will not be compromised,” Amar Singh said.

The government has been reduced to a minority after 61 MPs of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left bloc and an allied party withdrew their legislative support Wednesday after propping it up for four years.

The Left, which vehemently opposes the nuclear deal, was protesting against the government’s move to finalise the safeguards pact at the IAEA, a crucial step to take the contentious deal ahead.

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