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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 109

Luncheons, dinners, biddings, open trade offs mark run up to trust vote in PM Singh

By M Rama Rao, India Editor, Asian Tribune

New Delhi, 21 July 2008 (Asiantribune.com): The run up to the trust vote Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is seeking in the Indian Parliament on Monday is marked by luncheons, dinners, biddings and open trade offs in rival camps amidst indications that the Singh's Congress party managers have managed to push the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to what they call comfort zone in the numbers game.

Though till Saturday the going rate for a rebel MP willing to go with the ruling alliance was put at around Rs. 35 crore, the count down for the crucial trial of strength the Prime Minister will be facing for the first time in his four and half year rule appears to have pushed up the going to rate Rs. 100 crore.

"I was offered Rs. 100 crore if I were prepared to vote for the ruling alliance", said Kuldip Bishnoi, a lawmaker from North India's Haryana state. He was suspended from the Congress party recently and suddenly his vote has become crucial since very single vote counts. Son of a former chief minister Bhajan Lal, who had played the role of a savior for Prime Minister Narasimha Rao in 1994 during a close encounter with trust vote, Kuldip has however decided to go with the opposition and vote against the UPA.

Sunday's highlight was the sudden emergence of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, who heads the Bahujan Samaj Party, predominantly a party of scheduled castes, as the real Queen Bee. She has succeeded in breaking Samajwadi party of her local rival Mulayam Singh and roped into a loose alliance the parties of former prime minister Hardhanahalli Doddegowda Devegowda which has three law makers and of Ajit Singh, (the lone son of a former prime minister Charan Singh), who has about five lawmakers in his Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) party.

The Left parties and small regional parties like Telugu Desam party have rallied behind Mayawati and have begun to project her as their prime ministerial choice. This has upset calculations of the main opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its prime ministerial candidate L K Advani in waiting. BJP and its partners in the National Democratic Alliance suffered a set back with the Congress poaching at least four of their members. This way the gains of the opposition that had come its way courtesy Mayawati were to an extent neutralized to the glee in the Congress camp which has managed to retain Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), a party of five MPs from crossing over to the NDA with the bait of a two ministerial berths in Delhi and a deputy chief ministership in Jharkhand, the state which s JMM's home turf.

The government managers have heaved a sigh of relief when suspended DMK member Dayanidhi Maran announced that he would abide by the party line in support of the one line motion the Prime Minister would move seeking trust in his government.

Likewise, the Hyderabad-based party, Majlis Ittehadul Musalmeen (MIM), which has an articulate lawmaker in Assadullah Owaisi, declared that it would give its lone vote in support of the motion.

The main opposition BJP led NDA held its show of strength at the residence of its leader, L.K. Advani who hosted a dinner for his folks. At least four – five MPs were missing as they were spotted at the PM's dinner. Nonetheless, BJP leaders were in high spirits, confidently proclaiming the collapse of the UPA Government.

As the outcome of the trust vote will decide the fate of the N-deal between India and the US, diplomatic community, particularly from the US and other G-8 members are on high alert keeping close watch on the unfolding developments.

-Asian Tribune-

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