New Delhi, July 21 : The Manmohan Singh-led UPA Government appears confident of securing the trust vote on Tuesday, and if sources are to be believed, it is banking on abstentions by the Trinamool Congress and possibly 10 others from the opposition National Democratic Alliance. (NDA)
On Monday, a confident and combative UPA took on the opposition in a packed Lok Sabha hall in a raucuous manner, right from the start of the proceedings.
Moving a one-line motion that "this House expresses its confidence in the Council of Ministers", 75-year-old Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said "every single decision" taken by his government in the last four years was in the "best interests of our people and our country." Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that the Congress-led alliance had the support of 276 MPs, clearly crossing the majority mark.
Leader of Opposition L.K.Advani countered by saying that the Prime Minister was "singularly" responsible for the current political crisis and held that the Indo-US nuclear deal has become an agreement between two individuals, making India "subservient" and a "junior partner."
"The UPA is like a patient in the ICU room. The first question everyone asks is whether he (patient) is going to survive or not," Advani said while opposing the confidence motion. This led to a shouting match from the treasury benches
Advani's comments that Singh had opposed Pokhran-2 nuclear tests in 1998 also drew a sharp response from the prime minister who said he had spoken only about opposition to sanctions that followed the explosions and how the country should be prepared to face the challenges.
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee made it clear she would abstain from Tuesday's voting. There was also intense speculation that around 10 MPs from BJP, Shiv Sena, JD(U) and BJD may abstain.
As the numbers game intensified, Mukherjee said in his "simple arithmetic", UPA's combined strength of 237 with Samajwadi party's 39 added upto 276. With the Lok Sabha having an effective strength of 541, the ruling coalition enjoyed a simple majority, he said.
BJP leader V K Malhotra claimed that the groups arrayed against the UPA were together and needed just four to five MPs more to defeat the government.
Failure of Shiv Sena MP Tukaram Renge Patil to turn up at the party's parliamentary group meeting fuelled speculation that he may desert the party which has 12 MPs.
The atmosphere in the Lok Sabha was surcharged with BSP members at one point virtually coming to blows with the rival Samajwadi Party.
An emotional Mukherjee, who has been UPA's pointsman for talks with Left parties on the nuclear deal, asked his former allies to "touch their heart" and asked "Is this an issue(nuke deal) that you(Left) are bringing down the government?
Given the bitterness that has marked relations between the UPA and the Left in the recent weeks, the Prime Minister was forthcoming in his praise of veteran Marxists Jyoti Basu and Harkishan Singh Surjeet for their "sagacity" and "leadership" for helping set up the coalition government.
Singh made no reference to Prakash Karat with whom he has been at odds over the nuclear deal. The import of the fact that the Prime Minister made no mention of CPM general secretary's name was not lost.
However, senior CPI-M leader Brinda Karat countered by saying that the Prime Minister was distributing cheques to save his government, while senior BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain described the civilian nuclear cooperation deal between India and the United States as both anti-Hindu and anti-Muslim. Another BJP leader Manvendra Singh described the nuclear deal as purely being case of political brinkmanship.
Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel charged the opposition and the Left with ignoring the vital issue of energy security, and added that the two-day quest for a vote of trust has shamed India in the eyes of the international community.