Congress managers toiled to reach comfort zone


New Delhi: The Congress appeared confident since Tuesday morning of coming up trumps in case of voting on the cut motions moved by the opposition in the Lok Sabha.

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With assured support of 271 members to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in the house of 545, Congress managers felt they were in a better position to muster the numbers than during the 2008 trust vote – sought by the previous UPA regime after withdrawal of support by the Left parties over the Indo-US nuclear deal. While there were overt signals from the Bahujan Samaj Party of supporting the government after it felt satisfied with the Central Bureau of Investigation’s stand in the Supreme Court in the disproportionate asset case faced by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, the Congress managers were also working on the Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal.


For the Congerss floor managers, mere defeat of the opposition sponsored cut motions was not enough. The numbers during the division on the government side had to be big enough to deny the opposition a psychological advantage. Congress leaders were working a strategy to surpass the opposition numbers by at least 50. Helicopters had been kept ready to ferry UPA members in case of any contingency. The floor managers kept working late Monday night to soften independent members, and those who had rebelled against their parties. The Congress managers contacted independent MPs, expelled BJP leader Jaswant Singh and members of the Jan Morcha. They also spoke to Rashtriya Lok Dal, which has five members in the Lok Sabha.


While there have been divisions on cut motions on demands for grants in the past, it was probably the first time that a division was allowed on guillotine. The Opposition, including the Bharatiya Janata Party and Left , wanted to embarrass the UPA by a show of strength but appeared reconciled to a comfortable win by the government by Tuesday afternoon. Both the BJP and CPI-M blamed the Congress of using the CBI to get support from “vulnerable” political leaders. While the BJP was direct in its criticism, the Left said the Congress had expertise to know who was vulnerable at a particular point.