With SP in, Congress woos samller parties

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New Delhi, Jul 6 (UNI) Armed with the assured support of the Samajwadi Party to the nuclear deal and to the government, the Congress is now watching and wooing smaller parties to muster the magic figure of 272 in the Lok Sabha if the Left withdraws support.

And it is for this reason that the meeting of the Rashtriya Lok Dal(RLD) led by Mr Ajit Singh here assumes significance.

Though Mr Singh has expressed himself in favour of the nuclear deal, he had said the final and formal decision on the support to the Congress in case of vote of confidence would be taken after consultation with his party MPs and other leaders.

The RLD has three MPs, whose support would be crucial in the possible trial of strength.

The meeting will be held at Mr Singh' residence here, his office said.

The effective strength of the Lok Sabha is 542, as two nominated members cannot vote, nor can one elected member, due to a court order. So the magic figure needed by the UPA is 272. Some more votes can come from about half a dozen Independent members.

The UPA minus the Left has 227 members, which combined with 39 of the Samajwadi Party come to 266.The six votes needed could come from three of RLD and three of the JD(S). Besdies, there are about half a dozen Independent members.

The UPA Government had heaved a major sigh of relief on July four, when the SP after meeting Dr A P J Abdul Kalam the previous day, made almost an open declaration of support to the Congress, saying that their doubts over the deal had been cleared by Dr Kalam who was firmly of the view that the civil nuclear pact with the US was going to be beneficial for the country.

The UPA Government plunged into a crisis after its Left allies threatened that they would withdraw support to the Government the moment it went to IAEA for the India-specific safeguards agreement, which they contend would mean operationalisation of the deal.

After the Left's stand became very clear, the Congress found a ready ally in the SP, which sufferred defeat by its arch rival BSP in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections last year, and so wanted a friendly party at the Centre and then an ally in the state for the coming Lok Sabha elections. Moreover, he Congress too needs the SP in the state.

The Left have given the government a deadline of tomorrow, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leaves for G-8 summit in Toyako, Japan to tell whether it was going to IAEA for the safeguards agreement.

However, the communists will take their final decision after Dr Singh is back from the Summit.


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