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Numbers Game: All eyes on independent MPs

Vicky Nanjappa and Krishnakumar P | July 20, 2008 18:46 IST
Last Updated: July 20, 2008 22:01 IST

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With two days to go before the United Progressive Alliance seeks the vote of confidence in Parliament, the Congress and the its opponents are both vying for the support of the independent Members of Parliament.

Though the six independent MPs in the Parliament are yet to declare their stance on the India-United States nuclear agreement, at least four of them have already made up their minds.

Earlier today, four independent MPs met Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and discussed their future course of action. SP leader Amar Singh told a press conference that some independent MPs were in touch with his party, but refused to divulge their names.

The Congress camp is confident that it has the support of at least three independent MPs, including the two from north-east.

Independent MP Sansuma Khunggur Bwiswmuthiary will vote for the UPA government during the trial of strength in the Lok Sabha on July 22.

"We are in the Congress-led coalition government in Assam. So it is obvious," Bwiswmuthiary said.

He has presented a list of demands for supporting the UPA. " These are related to the development of Bodoland and for the betterment of the Bodo people," Bwiswmuthiary said.

Manipur MP Mani Charenmei will vote for the UPA government in the July 22 trust vote, Assam Congress president Bhubaneshwar Kalita said on Sunday.

"Mani Charenmei will vote for the UPA government," Kalita said.

He, however, did not say anything on whether an arrangement was reached with Charenmei on the issue.

Sources said Charenmei had asked for a commitment from the Centre on unification of Naga-inhabited areas in the northeast.

Chhewang Thupstan, independent MP from Ladakh, is also likely to vote for the UPA. The MP reportedly discussed the matter with his supporters in Ladakh before taking a decision.

But former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi, who is now an independent MP, has made up his mind to vote against the UPA.

 "The government has to go. And since the trust vote is on the issue of the nuclear deal, I will vote against the government," he told

"The nuclear deal is against our nation's interest and I will vote against any move that is against the interest of the nation," Marandi added.

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