New Delhi: The opposition parties have demanded a special vote against the Congress-led coalition government over a rise in fuel prices as a tax probe into a cricket league has further shaken the Congress Party coalition. The demand has not yet been accepted by Parliament. But any vote would take place by 29 April, when the Budget is to be put to members.
While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government has lost two allies and is at its weakest since re-election last year, it is widely expected the government will scrape through the vote.
The Congress has 208 members, short of an absolute majority in the 543-seat lower House. It depends on allies for a majority.
Here are the main players who will determine the outcome:
Trinamool Congress (19 seats)
Led by Union railway minister Mamata Banerjee, Trinamool Congress will vote for the government. Trinamool is the main opposition in the Communist stronghold state of West Bengal and aims to capture the state in elections next year with the help of Congress.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (18 seats)
The regional DMK party will vote for the Congress, despite public misgivings about the rise in fuel prices.
Apart from Cabinet positions that its members have, the DMK relies on Congress support to rule its bastion state, Tamil Nadu.
The DMK is in the throes of a succession battle between the two sons of party patriarch Muthuvel Karunanidhi and would not like to face state or central elections.
Nationalist Congress Party (9 seats)
The NCP will vote for the government, despite testy relations over the party’s links to
the Indian Premier League being investigated by tax authorities, which has claimed a junior minister and opened up the government to opposition attacks.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar, also agriculture minister, once led the Indian cricket board under whose watch the league was created.
The two parties have had cool relations since Pawar left Congress in 1999 to form the NCP, as he did not want the foreign-born Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to lead the party.
Left parties (24 seats)
The four Marxist parties lead the alliance that has demanded the vote against the government.
The Left parties’ strength in Parliament plunged in 2009 elections and they face the prospect of losing West Bengal in elections next year. This vote is an opportunity to rally cadres and public support.
Bharatiya Janata Party (116 seats)
The main opposition party has kept its options open on aligning with the Communist-backed vote. Some analysts suggest it may abstain in Parliament because it only wants to embarrass the government, not bring it down.
The BJP has been attacking the government over high inflation, increases in fuel prices and security. On Wednesday, it rallied at least 100,000 people to march to Parliament to demand the government resign over soaring food prices.
Samajwadi Party (22 seats)
The SP is part of the anti-government alliance. Based in northern Uttar Pradesh state, it withdrew support from the Congress in March over a bill to reserve seats for women.
The SP performed badly in parliamentary elections last year and has seen support ebbing away.
Rastriya Janata Dal (4 seats)
The RJD is one of 13 smaller parties demanding the vote. It withdrew support from Congress in March over the women’s Bill.
Bahujan Samaj Party (21 seats)
The BSP has not revealed which way it will vote, but could likely go against the government. A decision has to come from party boss Mayawati, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.
The BSP and the Congress have been slugging it out in recent months, as they jostle for influence in Uttar Pradesh, the state with the most members of Parliament.