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Coal-gate: Cong divided on confidence vote in Parliament

August 27, 2012 22:15 IST

Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party continued to stall Parliament not allowing the prime minister to speak, the Congress has challenged them to bring in a no-confidence motion against the government, saying it has the numbers to defeat the motion. Renu Mittal reports.

The Congress made it clear that it has been elected for a period of five years and that is the mandate given to them. The party said that if someone is becoming impatient they can use the instrumentalities provided under the constitution.

This is an obvious reference to the perceived impatience of senior BJP leader L K Advani who feels there is a window open to become the prime minister if the United Progressive Alliance government falls.

Even as a section of the UPA government and the Congress made it clear there was no question of seeking a confidence vote, a section of the Prime Minister's Office put out the word that the government may go in for the same.

This was told to the news media by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ashwini Kumar who claims to have a direct hotline to the prime minister.

This was also informally briefed by the media cell of the PMO. It is obvious that the prime minister is once again looking at strengthening his position by bringing in a confidence vote but the party has different views on the subject.

In 2008, the party had to pull all the stops out to win the confidence vote necessitated by the left pullout from the government after the prime minister made it a prestige issue to sign the nuclear deal with the Americans.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had threatened that he would resign if the party did not agree in supporting the nuclear deal.

This time around the Congress party has made it clear that there is no question of a confidence vote. Nor is there any move to adjourn the house sine die before September 7, when the Monsoon Session is scheduled to end.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal said the session would end at the scheduled time irrespective of whether the BJP allows the house to run or not. He ruled out suspending BJP members for disrupting the house.

Bansal said there would be a discussion in the Lok Sabha on the prime minister's statement under a non voting motion. Other parties such as the Akali Dal, the Biju Janata Dal and others are also moving motions for a discussion.

The prime minister is leaving for Iran on Tuesday, hence his four-page statement on Monday, clarifying his role as the coal minister. He said that he takes full responsibility for the decisions but added that no wrong decisions were taken.

With the 'boxing match' taking place between the Congress and the BJP, all other parties have been pushed to the sidelines and have become redundant. The Left -- the Communist Party of India-Marxist said that this is a fixed match between the BJP and the Congress as neither of them wants a discussion on the coal block allocation issue.

They said the two parties want a bipolar political scenario so as to edge all other political parties out.

The BJP has intensified its attack on the Congress, even as the ruling Congress says it is not wholly their responsibility to run Parliament and that the opposition also needs to look at their conduct.

With both trading charges and no one willing to back off, the stalemate in Parliament is likely to continue.

Renu Mittal in New Delhi