Delhi test on July 22
New Delhi, July 11
At a meeting of the UPA coordination committee, UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi placed on record her appreciation of the role played by the Left parties in the formation of the UPA. “Without their support, the UPA could not have been formed and a good deal of what we have achieved would not have been possible,” she said, fully conscious of the fact that her party may have to again do business with the Communists in the event of a fractured mandate in the next Lok Sabha poll. She thanked the Samajwadi Party (SP) for extending support to the UPA government.
“We have 290 MPs with us…the BJP can keep dreaming that it will dislodge us,” railway minister and RJD leader Lalu Prasad said in his inimitable style as the UPA leaders came out of the Prime Minister’s residence after the meeting.
Agriculture minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar, endorsing Lalu’s comments, said the government was confident that it would manage the numbers in the Lok Sabha on the trust vote.
Like Sonia, the two leaders did not utter a word against the Left and, in fact, were all praises for the Communists. The Left parties played significant role in the running of the government for more than 4 years and now “they have left us because of their own compulsions,” the RJD leader said.
Briefing reporters, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee said the 90-minute meeting was attended, among others, by home minister Shivraj Patil, defence minister A.K. Antony, Lalu Prasad, Sharad Pawar, DMK’s T. R. Baalu and Mehbooba Mufti of the PDP.
JMM MP Hemlal Murmu was also present though there was speculation that the five-MP strong party was unhappy with the Congress since its supremo Shibu Soren was not inducted into the government.
According to Pranab, the Prime Minister gave a detailed briefing to the participants on the nuclear deal and regretted the Left’s decision to withdraw support to his government.
Thanking the Left parties who had been with the UPA for the past four years, Sonia said, “unfortunately” we could not carry them with us on the nuclear agreement despite our best efforts. While we regret their withdrawal of support, it is now time to look ahead.”
Her appreciation came even though the Left leaders have been spewing venom on the government for its obsession with the nuclear deal. The four Left parties ended their relationship with the UPA after they failed to dissuade the government from proceeding with the Indo-US nuclear deal.
Sonia said the government would stand by the Prime Minister’s pledge that the nuclear deal would be operationalised only after taking Parliament into confidence.
She informed the UPA constituents that the Prime Minister had handed over a letter to President Pratibha Patil yesterday asking her to convene a special Parliament session at the earliest to seek a trust vote.
The letter was handed to the President, she said, “in keeping with the highest traditions of democracy and our Constitution”.