NE MPs divided over support to UPA, Cong continues lobbying

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Shillong, Jul 20 (UNI) With two days left for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to prove his majority in the House, 24 MPs, especially the non-Congress from the seven North Eastern states, have decided to keep their cards close to the chest.

The North East states accounts for 24 Lok Sabha MPs. Assam leads the tally with 14 MPs, followed by two each in Meghalaya, Tripura, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and one each in Mizoram and Nagaland.

The Congress has the maximum of 11 members followed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with four, two each belonging to the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), one each of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Mizo National Front (MNF) and Nagaland People's Front (NPF) besides two Independent members.

Former Meghalaya Chief Minister and North East Congress Coordination Committee (NECCC) chairman D D Lapang was lobbying with all non-Congress MPs to support the Indo-US civil nuclear deal.

'' I have been speaking to the non-Congress MPs and asking them to support the deal and vote for the UPA Government during the confidence motion, '' Mr Lapang said.

The senior Congress leader, however, didn't divulge to whom he spoke and whether they have committed to support the UPA government on nuclear deal.

'' I have not decided which party to support. It's a secret voting. Let us wait and watch,'' Nagaland's ruling Naga People's Front's lone MP Wangyuh Konyak told UNI over phone from New Delhi.

However, NPF president Shurhozelie said he had asked Mr Konyak to vote against the UPA. '' In the past, we have always extended our support to the UPA on certain issues, but this time we have decided to vote against them to reciprocate the unconstitutional imposition of Article 356 ahead of the Assembly elections in Nagaland, '' he said.

Mizoram's ruling Mizo National Front's lone MP Pu Vanlalzawma said he was waiting only for the final decision of party chief and Chief Minister Pu Zoramthanga to decide the course of his support.

The Chief Minister is expected to convey his choice to Vanlalzawma tomorrow.

The NPF-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland is supported by the BJP.

The MNF was an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) but pulled out from the alliance in March last year.

Independent MP from outer Manipur Mani Charanamei said he would decide to vote in favour or against the Manmohan Singh government only if the two national parties Congress and BJP made their stand clear on the integration of the Naga-inhabited areas under one state.

'' Nuclear deal is important for the energy of the country but for me the Naga people's aspiration is more important, but whichever party shows sympathy with the Naga issue, he will support them, '' Mr Charanamei averred.

AGP president Brindaban Goswami said his party would oppose the deal and vote against the UPA Government in Parliament.

However, the youngest parliamentarian, Agatha K Sangma had assured her support to the UPA Government.

'' India, as an emerging nation, needs fuel security. The Indo-US nuclear deal is essential for development, '' Ms Sangma, who would vote together with ten other NCP colleagues in Parliament, said.

'' The Indo-US nuclear deal will provide energy security to the nation and serve the national interest, '' the youngest daughter of former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma stated.

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