Monday, August 18, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Battlelines drawn for no-trust vote
Numbers favour NDA
Tribune News Service and agencies

New Delhi, August 17
Even as the Opposition was busy working out strategies for the debate on the Congress-sponsored no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha tomorrow, the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) further consolidated its position with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) categorically announcing it would vote against the motion.

With less than twenty-four hours to go before the first no-trust motion against the Vajpayee-led government would be taken up, the NDA coalition was set to defeat the motion with numbers on their side. Parliament would be deliberating a no-confidence motion after a gap of 10 years, the last being the controversial one against the P V Narasimha Rao government that ultimately resulted in legal cases.

The ruling alliance maintained that it had 323 MPs to oppose the motion as against 209 of the combined Opposition. The DMK, an important ally of the NDA despite being annoyed with the alliance for seeking support from the AIADMK, today declared that it would vote against the motion. DMK supremo M Karunanidhi clarified that the NDA had not approached the AIADMK which had 11 members in the Lok Sabha.

The Congress, too, received a respite when the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar announced that his seven MPs would vote for the no-confidence motion in Lok Sabha.

However, the Congress remained undecided on boycott of Defence Minister George Fernandes when he would intervene tomorrow since it would be odd to walk out on its own motion, and particularly since the NCP along with Samajwadi Party, did not support the boycott which was on the issue of Public Accounts Committee on defence purchases when he would speak. The SP Members even took part in the Rajya Sabha proceedings when the Congress and Left parties abstained.

While the NDA had convened a meeting of its MPs tomorrow at Central Hall of the Parliament at 9.30 am to finalise the strategy to demolish the concerted attack, the Opposition groups would meet separately to sharpen their offensive on the failures of the 46-month government on various fronts. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee would be chairing the NDA meeting.

The ruling coalition felt the debate would provide an opportunity to highlight the Vajpayee government’s achievements, particularly since five states were scheduled to go to the polls in November.

The Congress, on the other hand, would use the debate to ‘expose’ the government on the issue of corruption, especially in defence deals and its alleged ‘’misuse’’ of the CBI in the Ayodhya demolition case.

The NDA was attempting to bring jailed MDMK leader V Gopalaswamy, known as ‘Vaiko’, to the Lok Sabha for participating and voting on the motion. He had attended the Joint Session of Parliament and voted for Prevention Of Terrorists Bill, the Ordinance under which he has been detained in Tamil Nadu.

Led by the Bharatiya Janata Party with 184 members, the NDA was complacent with the TDP having a strength of 29, Shiv Sena 15, Bahujan Samaj Party 14, Samata Party, DMK 12 each, BJD 10, Trinamool Congress 8, JD(U) 6, PMK and the INLD 5, MDMK 4, RJD (Democratic-Nagmani Group) 3, Akali Dal, JD-JP and All India Lok Tantrik Congress two each, Himachal Vikas Congress, Manipur State Congress, Sikkim Democratic Front one each.

The NDA also had the support of the Indian Democratic Party consisting of five Independents and three expelled Samajwadi Party MPs.

The Congress, which was the main opposition party with 112 MPs, was supported by 34 CPM members. The parties, who were expected to support the Congress motion were, Samajwadi Party with 27, NCP 8, National Conference 5, CPI 3, Lok Janshakti Party 2, Samajwadi Janata Party, JMM, Lok Dal(Secular), Akali Dal (Mann), Kerala Congress, Peasants and Workers Party of India, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) one each.

However, Congress sources said the party leadership was till late evening still undecided on whether the party members should walk out or continue to sit when Mr Fernandes would speak.

When contacted Party Chief Whip Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi merely said “The stand of the party on the issue would become clear on the floor of the House.”

Meanwhile, top leadership of the Congress were in close contact with leaders of other opposition parties like the Samajwadi Party, the Left Parties and others to ensure a better floor-coordination and effective attack on the NDA government during the debate on the no-confidence motion.

The one-line motion would be moved by Congress President Sonia Gandhi and top leaders of the NDA, Congress and other opposition parties would participate in the two-day debate beginning tomorrow. The Prime Minister, who would be meeting all MPs belonging to the NDA ahead of the no-confidence motion, would make an intervention.

To fine-tune the party’s strategy, top BJP leaders met at Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani’s residence this evening. Among those who were present included, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and BJP Chief Whip Vijay Kumar Malhotra.

Mr Malhotra told newspersons that there was absolute unity among the NDA allies and that the Congress-sponsored motion would be defeated convincingly.

The BJP leader said it would be a good opportunity for the NDA to expose the Congress.

According to BJP sources, the AIADMK may decide to vote against the motion.

All political parties have already issued whips to their members to be present during the two-day debate and vote according to their respective party stand.


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
123 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |