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Sonia & Co gear up for July 22 showdown

July 16, 2008 09:38 IST

Realising that it has a sliver-thin majority in the trust vote on July 22, the Congress leadership is leaving nothing to chance.

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With just seven days to go, Congress managers along with other top leaders from the UPA allies are on round-the-clock duty to ensure the coalition keeps its flock together and the opponents are reduced to a minority.

UPA Chairman and Congress President Sonia Gandhi [Images] is getting a six-hourly reports on the numbers in the Lok Sabha.

While voting is likely to take place only on the evening of July 22 (possibly even late night), the Congress is gearing up for a physical stock-taking exercise at least 48 hours in advance.

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It has asked all UPA MPs to mark their presence in Delhi by July 20.

Government sources indicate that this will show the final tally long before the crucial hour of trust vote, and in case of absentees (especially from the smaller parties), the party will get some time for damage control.

Sonia has also asked the party to ready multi-level checklists to ensure nothing goes wrong. While on one hand, the Congress parliamentary managers are keeping a party-wise tab, the party will also hold special state-wise stock-taking exercises.

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Last week, Congress general secretaries in charge of different states were summoned by Gandhi and asked to prepare state-wise lists of MPs and keep in touch with them.

The government is also taking measures to avoid facing any no-confidence motion in the near future. The special session starting from July 21 will not be treated as a separate session -- it will merely be counted as the monsoon session (due from August 11) that has begun early.

According to parliamentary rules, the government has to face a no-confidence motion only once in a parliamentary session.

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Although the UPA is yet to finalise its list of speakers, the PM will initiate the debate on July 21. But before the most important debate of the 14th Lok Sabha begins, seven new members -- elected in as many by-elections -- will be sworn in at the beginning of the session on July 21.

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