New Delhi: Amid a concerted attack on the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in Parliament ahead of Tuesday’s vote of confidence, it wasn’t clear whether the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Left Front and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) together had mustered enough votes to pull down the government.
Meanwhile, the Congress appeared cautiously optimistic of being able to scrape through in the trust vote, called over the government’s support of the India-US nuclear deal.
“The government might just make it because of floor management, some abstentions and defections,” predicted political analyst Mahesh Rangarajan.
Upbeat: PM Manmohan Singh outside Parliament on Monday. (Photo: Manish Swarup/AP)
The principal opposition, the BJP, on the other hand, sought to refute unconfirmed reports that the party may not be going the extra mile to ensure the defeat of the government because of fears that BSP chief, Mayawati, who has emerged as the leader of the anti-UPA combine, may walk away with the political advantage.
“We have even flown in party members undergoing medical treatment, such as (actor) Dharmendra from Los Angeles,” said Prakash Javadekar, a Rajya Sabha member and BJP spokesperson. “Don’t go by the disinformation campaign against us or a couple of defections from our alliance. In fact, at least 26 MPs from the Congress-Samajwadi Party-Rash-triya Janata Dal will vote with us.”
Subrata Mukherjee, a professor of politics at the University of Delhi, reasoned: “The BJP may have to seek Mayawati’s support even after the next polls. So it does not make much sense to avoid toppling the government out of fear that she may gain. In any case, the rise of the BSP will hurt the Congress more.”
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi, however, accused the BJP of secretly promising support to Mayawati to make her the next prime minister.
“The BJP is prepared to cut its nose to spite its face only to engage in toppling governments to play the politics of opportunism,” he said.
Earlier Monday, moving the motion of confidence, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh defended the nuclear deal.
Reacting to the Prime Minister’s comment that the Parliament session was “wholly avoidable”, L.K. Advani, leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, said the government had only itself to blame. “It is your government and, in a way, you personally, and even the Congress president (Sonia Gandhi), without whom you would not take a single step, who is to be blamed. The Opposition has played no role in this,” said Advani.
Much like the BJP, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which leads the Left Front, reiterated its opposition to the nuclear deal and accused the Congress party of violating the solemn agenda finalized for the ruling coalition as part of the common minimum programme which did not include a pact with the US. “The Prime Minister is only interested in the 123 Agreement but not in dealing with the situation when the inflation had touched almost 12.3%,” said Mohammad Salim, deputy leader of the CPM.
External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee claimed the government had a simple majority, with the support of 276 MPs, even when the Left parties withdrew support.