M A I N   N E W S

North may tilt the scales in favour of UPA
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh may help the Congress-led UPA government to get the July 22 trust vote.

Statistically speaking, these four northern states and the Union Territory have 34 MPs with Punjab heading the list with 13 MPs, followed by Haryana (10), Jammu and Kashmir (6) and Himachal Pradesh (4). Chandigarh’s lone representative, Pawan Bansal is a minister of state in the Manmohan Singh government.

So far, the UPA enjoys a clear 18-15 edge, even without taking into account the lone Independent MP from Ladakh.

MPs from Punjab in general and the Akalis in particular have been under tremendous pressure from various Sikh organisations, including those of NRIs, to rise above political affiliations and support the first ever Sikh Prime Minister.

Going by utterances of the leaders, only two MPs, both from the Congress-Preneet Kaur and Rana Gurjit Singh — will vote in favour of the motion of confidence as the remaining 11-eight from the SAD and three from the BJP — will oppose the motion.

Though the Akali Dal has already issued a whip to its members to oppose the motion of confidence, there have been speculations that a couple of members may defy the whip. The reason given is that former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, whom the SAD supported and got his son Naresh Gujral elected from Jalandhar, has been an ardent supporter of the 123 nuclear treaty. He has been quoted in media in advising the SAD to support the UPA on the nuclear treaty.

In Haryana, where the Congress has nine of 10 MPs, revolt by two of their sitting members, Kuldip Bishnoi and Arvind Sharma, is a major setback from the UPA. Besides, these two rebels, the NDA will get the vote of its lone BJP member from Sonepat.

In Himachal Pradesh, the UPA is certain to get three of four votes. The only exception will be Anurag Thakur, who was recently declared elected on the BJP ticket from Hamirpur byelection.

The best bet for the UPA is Jammu and Kashmir where it hopes to get at least five of six votes. Besides two MPs from the Congress, Mufti Mehbooba (PDP), and Omar Abdullah and Abdul Rshid Shaheen (NC) have already announced their support to the UPA.

How will the lone Independent Thupstan Chhewang from Ladakh votes, remain to be seen?



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