Sonia meets Congress MPs ahead of trust vote

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New Delhi, Jul 19 (UNI) Congress president Sonia Gandhi today explained the implications of the Indo-US nuclear deal to her party MPs from different states ahead of the crucial July 22 trust vote in the Lok Sabha to determine the future of the 50-month-old UPA government.

Ms Gandhi's meeting came a day ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's dinner for the MPs of the ruling UPA coalition at the Hotel Ashok tomorrow.

The Congress MPs from each state met Ms Gandhi separately at her 10 Janpath residence along with the AICC General Secretary in charge of respective states.

The exercise began in the morning with the MPs from Andhra Pradesh being the first to meet Ms Gandhi along with General Secretary in charge of the state Veerappa Moily.

Out of the 31 Congress MPs from Andhra Pradesh, two were not present at the meeting with Ms Gandhi.

Three Congress MPs from Karnataka, including former minister Ambareesh, were also absent at the meeting of the party MPs from the state.

Mr Moily, who is also in charge of the AICC media department, told UNI that the entire flock of the Congress would be together and those who were not present today would reach here tonight or tomorrow.

He said Mr Ambareesh could not be present as he was busy in a film shooting.

Interestingly, four Congress MPs from Madhya Pradesh - Mr Vijendra Singh, Mr Manvender Singh, Mr Rajesh Mishra and Mr Surendra Goyal - met Ms Gandhi along with the party MPs from the state despite the report that they were planning to join the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

Mr Moily earlier told mediapersons that Ms Gandhi's meeting was not a stock taking exercise. "It was a normal practice. It is a courtesy that MPs call on Party President ahead of the trust vote.

All the MPs used the opportunity to reiterate their support to the party." He said Ms Gandhi explained to state-level MP groups the implications of the Indo-US nuclear deal.

UNI SH PK HT1634

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