M A I N   N E W S

How govt got numbers to defeat cut motions
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, April 27
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was the most relieved man this evening after the UPA government defeated the opposition-sponsored cut motions against the increase in prices of fuel and fertilisers in the Lok Sabha with a convincing margin of 88 votes.

Mukherjee had micro-managed the entire exercise of lining up the numbers for the UPA. He did so by dividing the opposition and shoring up the UPA’s own numbers by lining up single member parties as well as independent MPs. The BSP’s decision to vote along with the government was clearly the icing on the cake.

The Finance Minister was aided by Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Sonia Gandhi, and the UPA’s floor managers Pawan Kumar Bansal, Prithviraj Chavan and V Narayanswamy.

The whole operation was conducted with precision with each member being assigned the task of contacting and ensuring the presence of members from specific states and political parties. Mukherjee and his team left no stone unturned to muster the numbers as it enjoyed a wafer-thin majority. He repeatedly warned the others against getting too complacent as “accidents’ in the past had created problems for the government of the day.

“Mukhjeree would periodcially cite instances of such so-called past accidents to emphasis that we could not afford to let our guard down,” said a senior UPA leader.

The government originally had 271 members in its kitty as the SP, RJD and the BSP, accounting for 46 members, were not on their side while the 160-member BJP-led NDA and 55-member Third Front, including the Left, the TDP and the Biju Janata Dal, had decalred their intent to move cut motions. The halfway mark in the 545-member Lok Sabha is 272. The government moved in quickly to elicit the support of BSP leader Mayawati whose party has 21 members in the Lok Sabha. The hint about a tacit understanding with the BSP came last week when the government told the Supreme Court that it would review the fresh evidence it received in the disproportionate assets case pending against Mayawati before moving ahead.

The government took a similar soft line with regard to RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s case in the apex court. UPA sources disclosed the Centre is all set to give SP leader Mulayum Singh Yadav a clean chit in a disproportionate assets case pending against him. The result of this effort was there to be seen in the Lok Sabha.

At the same time, UPA’s crisis managers contacted single member parties like the Kerala Congress, Bodoland People’s Front and Bahujan Vikas Aaghadi, and wooed independent members like Jaya Prada, Digvijay Singh, Jaswant Singh and Hasan Khan.

Today’s vote has at least ensured the longevity of the ruling combine as a government is duty-bound to resign if it is defeated in a vote on a cut motion.





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