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Congress looks for magic figure

delhi Updated: Jul 03, 2008 02:27 IST
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Much like the Indo-US nuclear deal, the UPA would also have to clear a couple of stages to meet its triple objectives of getting the deal, keeping the government and staving off early polls.

Stage one, would be to get the numbers. On the eve of the July 3 UNPA meeting, the Congress-led UPA was busy trying to work out its tally for a life without the 59-member Left. After days of back channel and upfront efforts, Congress leaders privately expressed confidence of getting the 39–member SP on board.

But to ensure that the government does not skate on thin ice, the Congress’s political managers are trying to get some extra support from smaller formations like the RLD and the JD(S) while working on some parties and MPs to absent or abstain during a vote in the Lok Sabha.

SP’s Mulayam Singh Yadav is reportedly keen that the UPA gets some additional support beyond the half-way mark of 272 so that he can back the combine with an easy mind.

Ajit Singh’s RLD will meet on July 7 to decide on the issue while H.D. Deve Gowda of the JD(S) met CPI leaders on Wednesday. And though the Shiv Sena on Wednesday ruled out supporting the UPA on the deal, the ruling party has not given up hope.

But getting the numbers is only stage one of the scenario that would unfold over the next couple of weeks when the government goes to the IAEA, the Left withdraws support and the UPA is called to prove its strength in the House. Since no one wants early elections, the numbers game may be tricky but not impossible, say analysts though they admit that brinkmanship can take any turn.

The second stage would come immediately thereafter. The SP has denied it has asked for a share in government in return for support. But Congress circles do not rule out the possibility of the SP, the RLD or even the JD(S) pitching for it as there would still be seven to eight month left if the polls are held on schedule. “All that would come later,’’ admitted a leader, adding that the burden of accommodating the new-comers would lie with the Congress which would have to face a new kind of pressure group.