UPA together, confident of winning majority (Lead)

July 11th, 2008 - 2:51 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 11 (IANS) The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Friday said the coalition was together despite its Left allies’ pulling out legislative support over the India-US nuclear deal and will win a comfortable majority in parliament during a trust vote which will take place “as soon as possible”. At a meeting of the UPA allies held at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s residence here, Congress President Sonia Gandhi reportedly thanked the Communist party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left allies for their four-year support to the government.

“We thank the Left for their support though we cannot carry them with us on the nuclear deal,” Gandhi said.

She also expressed confidence that the government will win majority in the confidence motion.

According to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who briefed the media after the meeting, all the UPA allies - except a few who cited personal reasons - attended the meeting.

“We endorsed that parting of ways with the Communists was sad. But in politics these things happen. There is no bitterness among us. We have accepted the challenge with courage and conviction,” Mukherjee said.

The government has been reduced to a minority after 61 MPs of the Left parties, which had been propping it up for the last four years, withdrew legislative support Wednesday.

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

“Everybody is ready to face the vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha,” he said, adding that the date for the session would be conveyed to President Pratibha Patil after the cabinet meeting Friday evening.

“But we will try to do it as soon as possible,” Mukherjee said.

Government sources said the special session to conduct the floor test is expected to be convened on a Thursday or Friday.

Although there were speculations that the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s (JMM) five MPs may not stay with the UPA in the crucial test, Mukherjee said its leader Shibu Soren did not attend the meeting as he was busy with his son’s wedding but JMM MP Hemlal Murmu was present.

Mehbooba Mufti of the People’s Democratic Party, which has snapped its ties with the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir, was also present.

Both Mukherjee and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief and Railways Minister Lalu Prasad, who later talked to the media, made it a point to clarify that there was no bitterness between the Left and the UPA despite the former’s decision to withdrew its support.

“The Left is not our enemy. They have their own compulsions,” Lalu Prasad said, adding that there was still scope for them to work together in future.

The railways minister exuded confidence. “There is no doubt that we will win the confidence vote. It will be with a thumping majority. If we lose in parliament, the deal will go… It is alright.”

Justifying the UPA’s support to the contentious nuclear deal, the railways minister said: “We are not aligning with the US alone but there are 45 other countries who will supply us nuclear commerce.”

The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) was, meanwhile, meeting to finalise the date for the special session.

The Congress Working Committee (CWC), the apex decision-making body of the ruling party, will also be meeting Friday to assess the political situation and discuss future strategy.

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

“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 committed that it would prove its majority in the Lok Sabha before going to the IAEA to finalise the India-specific safeguards pact.

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.

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