New Delhi: The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), has decided to seek a trust vote on 22 July during a specially convened two-day session of Parliament, ahead of the scheduled 11 August start of the regular monsoon session.
The decision was taken by the cabinet committee on parliamentary affairs which met hours after the UPA’s constitutents met in the morning.
It will now forward the recommendation to President Pratibha Patil.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be the seventh head of government since 1989 to seek a trust vote in Parliament.
According to a Congress general secretary who didn’t wish to be identified, the initial date planned was 18 July but this had to be pushed back due to logistical reasons. “Five members of Parliament among those who will vote in our favour are in jail... We had to give some time to finish the legal procedures,” he said.
Union minister of shipping and road transport T.R. Baalu said that the UPA was confident of winning the trust vote.
The government will require 272 votes to win the vote of confidence.
After the Left Front withdrew support to the government over differences related to the Indo-US nuclear deal (the government wanted it while the Left didn’t), the UPA’s strength in the house has been reduced to 228. The government claims it has made up the numbers after securing the support of the Samajwadi Party, some independents, the Janata Dal (S) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi said the government wished to seek a trust vote as early as possible. “The UPA stands by the Prime Minister’s pledge of taking the Parliament into confidence before operationalizing the (nuclear) deal,” she added.
Proving its strength in Parliament will enable the government talk to the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, which needs to approve India-specific nuclear safeguards that are required for the deal to go ahead, as a majority government.
On Friday, the UPA sought to play down its parting of ways with the Left Front.
“Without their support, the UPA could not have been formed and a good deal of what we have achieved would not have been possible,” said Gandhi.
“Left is not our enemy. They have some compulsions or there might have been some confusion. But we will be together,” said Lalu Prasad, chief of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, a UPA constituent.
The Left Front, meanwhile, continued to take an aggresive stance. In an interview in the latest issue of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) mouthpiece, People’s Democracy, the party general secretary Prakash Karat said the Left would vote against the government for “their betrayal of national interests”. The party, on Friday, also lashed out at the government for keeping the text of the safeguards agreement hidden till submission to the IAEA.
The UPA’s attempts to pacify the Left parties have fuelled speculations that it wants them to abstain from voting in Parliament.
“Unless they decide not to go ahead with the nuclear deal, they will not have our support,” said D. Raja, national secretary of the Communist party of India.
“They have not asked us to abstain from voting. How can they do that? We have said we will vote against the government,” he added.
PTI contributed to this story.