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Numbers game on, Congress reaches out to Opposition

July 11, 2008 03:13 IST

With the numbers game continuing to be a ticklish affair, Congress is seeking to reach out to the Opposition, especially the Akali Dal, for a smooth sailing in the trust vote expected in a short session of Lok Sabha around July 23.

While government managers remained tight-lipped about the support to the UPA in the crucial trial of strength, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Thursday said that the Akali Dal, Janata Dal-United and the Bharatiya Janata Party should not 'commit the same folly' as that of the Left.

This, he said, was necessary as the deal was in the national interest and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] has avoided the soft option to remain in power with Left support and not proceed with the deal.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi refused to disclose the support of members the UPA is expecting in the 543-member House, remarking that strategy is not revealed during war.

Leader of Opposition L K Advani, who spoke to media persons after an National Democratic Alliance meeting, said he was optimistic that the majority in Parliament would vote against the government. At the same time, he ruled out any floor coordination with the Left parties whose withdrawal of support to the government has necessitated the trust vote.

A meeting of the UPA coordination committee is being held on Friday where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi [Images] will devise a strategy to face the trust vote. Gandhi has also convened a meeting of the Congress Working Committee to take stock of the situation.

Congress managers are banking on the Akali Dal, which has eight-members, to help them in the trust vote. Their refrain was that Dr Singh being the first Sikh Prime Minister of the country, the Akali Dal would be forced to help him to avoid any political backlash on its home turf

The parliamentary affairs minister has asked the UPA members to be present in Delhi by July 22, indicating thereby that a short session was likely soon after it.

Two dissident Samajwadi Party lawmakers, Beni Prasad Verma and Raj Babbar had separate meetings with the Congress chief after which they pledged support to Congress in the trust vote.

Meanwhile, in Guwahati, the Assam Gana Parishad, which has two lawmakers, declared it will vote against the trust motion. The AGP is part of the UNPA, whose another constituent Indian National Lok Dal has no Lok Sabha members.

With each and every member becoming important in the trial of strength, government managers have become extra active to reach out to smaller parties and also independents.

At the same time, a section in the government is contending that there could be a lot of abstentions and absentees at the time of the trial of strength.

Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati whose party has 17 members has been a staunch critic of the nuclear deal but has not revealed the strategy by which she would oppose the trust vote.

Government is hoping that the smaller parties like Ajit Singh's RLD, H D Deve Gowda's JDS would ultimately back the trust vote.

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