UPA’s number crunch begins

July 8th, 2008 - 5:38 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 8 (IANS) With the 59-member Left Front withdrawing support to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, the Manmohan Singh government has been reduced to 227 members in the Lok Sabha. To reach the magical 272 halfway mark in the 545-member Lok Sabha, the ruling coalition needs 45 MPs more for Manmohan Singh to win a trust vote in parliament. The Samajwadi Party’s support will fetch it 39 more MPs.

The three-member Rashtriya Lok Dal headed by veteran Uttar Pradesh politician Ajit Singh has also pledged its support to the government.

However, of the 227 members the UPA currently has, there are some who are still undecided.

Now the Congress party managers’ task is clearly cut out. They will be working over the next couple of weeks to see that the numbers are stacked in its favour and convince reluctant MPs to vote for the UPA government.

The Congress’ estranged ally in Jammu and Kashmir, the Peoples Democratic Party, is not sure whether its sole MP will vote in favour of the government. So is the case with the Andhra Pradesh-based All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimmen (MIM).

Although the government is desperately wooing former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal-Secular (three Lok Sabha MPs), its Kerala member M.P. Virendra Kumar is not likely to throw his lot behind the government.

There are also five independent MPs in the Lok Sabha on whom the government is heavily banking on, said Congress sources.

The UPA’s erstwhile ally, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, which has three MPs, has announced it will support the government only if its chief demand of a separate Telengana is met.

To be on the safe side, the Congress is desperate to get the support of at least 15-20 MPs to back it up in the event any party moves a no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha.

“Yes, there might be some work to be done but I don’t think there is any real danger to the government in the event of a floor test,” said a senior minister.

Already, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) with 17 MPs has withdrawn the outside support it provided to the UPA government.

The major UPA constituents are the Congress (153), Rashtriya Janata Dal (24), DMK (16) and the Nationalist Congress Party (11).

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