M A I N   N E W S

With DMK & SP on board, govt staves off crisis in Lok Sabha
TMC, BSP walkout marks defeat of Opposition amendments on NCTC
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 19
Days of uncertainty and suspense over the fate of Manmohan Singh government ended today with the Lok Sabha adopting the Motion of Thanks to the Presidential address amidst high drama marking the defeat of four successive Opposition amendments.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s deft move to win over the DMK, promising support to US draft resolution on Sri Lankan Tamils and his decision to placate Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee — by acceding to her demand of replacing Rail Minister Dinesh Trivedi — saw the Opposition attack fizzle out.

The PM addressed all the relevant issues raised by UPA partners in his elaborate reply and left the Trinamool a bit confused. TMC members, who voted against the Opposition amendment during voice vote, hurriedly withdrew from the House to avoid a Division, raising questions about whether their party had supported or opposed the Motion of Thanks.

The Opposition climb-down became apparent when Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj rose to press for her amendment on the NCTC, but simultaneously offered to withdraw it if Home Minister P Chidambaram gave an assurance that he would not implement the order till he had consulted and developed a consensus on the issue in the Chief Minister's conference.

“Adequate consultations will take place before the next steps are taken. A meeting of Chief Ministers on the NCTC issue is slated for April 16,” said the PM. But he fully backed the Home Minister. "The idea of the NCTC and the manner in which it will function are two separate issues. The idea is unexceptional. There may be differences about the manner in which it will function, but I am confident that through discussions and dialogues, the differences could be narrowed down,” said the PM.

He reminded the BJP and other critics of the NCTC that the "Multi-agency Centre that was established in 2001 (NDA period) was a precursor to the NCTC.” Manmohan punctured the three-day old Opposition campaign on the resignation of Trivedi saying, "I would like to use this opportunity to inform the members of the latest development. I received late last night an email, which was followed by a formal letter from Dinesh Trivedi tendering his resignation as the Railway Minister. I propose to forward this letter to the President with the recommendations to accept it. I regret the departure of Trivedi.”

Commending Trivedi, the PM said, “He had presented the Railway Budget which promised to carry out the Vision 2020. A new Railway Minister will be sworn in shortly."

The PM’s speech created the mood for passing the Motion and Opposition amendments appeared a mere formality. Even after Sushma Swaraj, Basudeb Acharia (CPM) B. Mahtab (BJD) and Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI) pressed their amendments, the mood seemed clearly favouring the motion without amendments. But putting Mamata Banerjee, who sitting in the Central Hall was monitoring her MPs’ actions, to test on NCTC, Sushma demanded a Division.

Immediately, Speaker Meira Kumar ordered clearing of the lobbies. Suddenly Trinamool chief whip came rushing into the House and asked his party members to come out and they all charged out. Seeing them, BSP members too trooped out leading to reduction of numbers. But the SP sat there supporting the government and then the Opposition motions were defeated one after the other by 141 for Sushma's motion and 227 against; Acharia got 146 for his amendment against 227 opposing it. Similarly, Mahtab got 145 and Gurudas got 144 votes.





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