Crucial parliament session begins to decide UPA fate


New Delhi : A crucial two-day session of the Lok Sabha that will decide the fate of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government began here Monday.

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The session started with new MPs taking oath after Speaker Somnath Chatterjee quipped: “I’m very happy to see a full house”.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is not a member of the Lok Sabha, will introduce the vote of confidence motion for his government in the house.

The session started amidst speculation about which way the trust vote would go given the tight numbers game between the two sides – the UPA and its supporters on one side and the Left parties, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) and others on the other.

While both sides tried to muster numbers on their side through Sunday – a day that saw fluctuating fortunes – they will now be banking on abstentions and cross voting from each other’s side.

Out of the 542 voting members, the UPA government will have to get support from 271 MPs to survive the vote of confidence.

The voting itself will take place Tuesday at the end of the debate on the trust vote.

The trust vote, which takes place Tuesday at the end of a two-day debate, has been necessitated by the withdrawal of support from the Congress-led UPA by the Left parties – the Communist Party-Marxist (CP-M), the Communist Party of India (CPI) and others – over differences on the India-US nuclear deal.

The Left parties withdrew support after the UPA government made it clear that it was going ahead with the deal.

While the Left parties, BSP, UNPA and some others are now on one side and are confident about toppling the government, the Congress and its allies have not given up hope of winning the trust vote.

The UPA got a boost Sunday with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) announcing its support to the government but there was a jolt also from the Rashtriya Lok Dal (3 MPs) and the Janata Dal-Secular (3 MPs) which decided to vote against the government.

Tight security measures were in place in and around the parliament house complex ahead of the trust vote.