Debate on expected lines: Advani sets Opposition's pitch

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New Delhi, Jul 21 (UNI) The Confidence Motion moved by Prime MInister Manmohan Singh today met with a frontal attack by Leader of the Opposition L K Advani as well as Left parties on the Indo-US nuclear deal and performance of the government, but was stoutly defended by the Congress, its allies and the Samajwadi Party.

The debate which turned acrimonious at times resulted in two adjournments as Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee repeatedly reminded the members that the nation was watching them with deep interest and they must adhere to the parliamentary norms of decency and high quality of debate.

Introducing a one-line Motion that the House expresses confidence in the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister said the trust vote was not only on the deal, but also on the policies and performance of the UPA government in the past 50 months.

Dr Manmohan Singh argued that the deal was in the interests of the nation.

He said the two-day sitting of the House on the trial vote was at his initiative following the withdrawal of support by the Left parties to the UPA government. It was ''unavoidable'' as he wanted to get the sense of the House before operationalising the 123 Agreement.

In his brief five-minute speech, most of which was read out from a prepared text, Dr Singh said it was unfortunate that the government's attention had been diverted at a time when it was grappling with inflation and taking measures to ameliorate the plight of farmers and other sections of people.

In a scathing attack, Mr Advani said the condition of the UPA coalition was akin to a ''patient in the ICU'' struggling for survival.

Mr Advani dwelt at some length to show that the performance of the government had been dismal, especially in combating inflation, ameliorating the lot of the farmers, checking terrorist attacks in various parts of the country and provision of basic necessities to the masses.

Challenging the Prime Minister's remark, Mr Advani said it was not in the nature of the BJP to destabilise the government as the Congress party often resorted to, but was aimed at defeating them.

He alleged that the UPA was resorting to horse-trading to keep itself in power.

Pointing out that the government had been reduced to a minority with the Left withdrawing support on July 9, he said such a dispensation was not in a position to enter into any international agreement.

He clarified that the BJP was not against either nuclear energy or entering into a strategic relationship with the United States, but was opposed to that deal as it would end in making India an unequal partner. He asserted that if the BJP was brought to power, it would re-negotiate the deal making it a treaty between equals.

Mr Advani said India would not be able to conduct any further nuclear tests once the nuke deal was signed. "There will not be any Pokhran-III or Pokran-IV," he remarked.

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