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The buzz from Delhi: Pranab may pilot trust vote
R Prema in New Delhi | July 16, 2008
Even as the number crunching for the crucial July 22 vote to decide fate of the United Progressive Alliance government becomes murkier with each passing day, confusion prevails in the Congress party on who will pilot the confidence motion in the Lok Sabha on July 21.
In normal course, it is always the privilege of the prime minister. Technicalities may, however, compel Dr Manmohan Singh [Images] to participate in the debate on the motion, but leave it for External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is leader of House, to pilot the motion on behalf of the government.
Dr Singh being a member of the Rajya Sabha cannot be present in the Lok Sabha when the voting takes place as prior to that, the House and all lobbies are cleared of anybody who is not a Lok Sabha member. So, even the prime minister has to move out.
The motion goes by default if its mover is not present in the House to request that it be put to vote at the end of the debate and as such the Congress is contemplating to let Pranab Mukherjee be the mover, lest the voting does not take place and the government is accused of not taking the vote to prove its majority.
There is a precedent of late P V Narasimha Rao, who was also a Rajya Sabha member, remaining present during the voting, but Congress sources said the Left -- bent upon targetting Dr Singh personally -- may object to his presence creating unpleasant acrimony.
Basu expressed his misgivings in Kolkata on the Left siding with BJP to pull down the government when Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and senior Politburo member Nirupam Sen approached him to persuade Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee to resign in lieu of the Left withdrawing support to the government.
A word has gone around that the Lok Sabha Speaker would attend his office on Monday, write his resignation and leave it on his table.
The young CPI-M leadership that felt insulted from the rebuke it got from Chatterjee may not be satisfied just with his resignation as he may be asked to be prepared for being the party's first speaker in the confidence motion debate.
Soren's secret hobnobbing
Annoyed with Dr Singh for not restoring his ministerial berth even after getting bail in the conviction for murder of his secretary, Soren sent one of his MPs to attend the UPA's meeting on Friday to ensure his game plan of joining hands with BJP remains under wraps.
Instead, she philosophised: 'The premature fall of an elected government usually leads to chaos and political instability. It also causes inconvenience to people when an early election is imposed on them.'
In any case, she would not be present in the Lok Sabha on July 21 when the debate on the trust motion begins as she is slated to address a rally at Esplanade in Kolkata to commemorate the killing of 13 Youth Congress activists in July 1993.
Left woos Jaya
With the Samajwadi Party's Mulayam Singh Yadav losing the moral right to continue as chairman of the third front of United National Progressive Alliance after joining hands with the Congress, CPI-M leader Prakash Karat is persuading All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam boss J Jayalalithaa to take over the reins once again.
He conveyed to her through The Hindu editor N Ram that he was quite happy with the statement she issued on the nuclear deal. If nothing else, the CPI-M sources said such gesture would stop Jayalalithaa in her tracks from siding with the BJP and if she opts to return to the UNPA, it would once again bolster prospects of the third front coming into a reckoning in the next Lok Sabha elections.
Chandrababu's eye on Maya
At the same time, he has put his parliamentary party leader Yerran Naidu to remain in touch with the Left leaders to give him minute-to-minute information on the political developments in Delhi.
On behalf of UNPA, Yerran Naidu is also in touch with Janata Dal-Secular chief H D Deve Gowda, Rashtriya Lok Dal president Ajit Singh and JMM supremo Shibu Soren to mobilise them for voting against the government.
Congress media blitz
Congress ministers are also not taking things lying down as Petroleum Minister Murli Deora became the first to launch a media campaign to sell the nuclear deal to the people.
The ministry of petroleum and natural gas has issued advertisements in major national dailies warning people with the lines like, 'tomorrow can be dark, if we don't see the light today'.
BJP says vote not on N-deal
Party spokesman Prakash Javadekar said the government would have to account for four years of its anti-people acts and policies and its failure on all front. The nuclear deal is only one of the issues for the confidence vote, he added.
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