A two-day special session of Parliament will be held on July 21 and 22 to enable Prime Minister Manmohan Singh take a vote of confidence and prove his majority after the Left withdrew support to the UPA over the nuclear deal. The
voting on the motion will take place on July 22 in the Lok Sabha.
<b1>A presidential communiqué about the session was issued late on Friday. Earlier, the Cabinet and the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs had cleared the dates, and conveyed them to President Pratibha Patil. "The Cabinet sent a communication on the session to the President," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi had said after the Cabinet meeting.
In a day marked by hectic consultations, the Prime Minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi first got the endorsement of the UPA allies on the issue and then followed it up with a meeting of the Congress Working Committee where the Prime Minister briefly explained the nuclear issue. This was followed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s detailed presentation on the developments, including the UPA-Left talks.
Singh saw the deal as a historic one. “We are in the process of making history," the PM told the CWC, elaborating on how India was unique in getting it even though it is not a signatory to the NPT.
Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi expressed a somewhat similar sentiment. He hailed the deal as a "big achievement" and appreciated the firm stand on the issue. "If the government goes because of the stand we have taken — though I am sure it will not go — it will be our bad luck. But in politics you have to take a stand in national interest," he told the CWC attended by 32 members.
The next few days would be busy for the Congress’ crisis managers as they muster the necessary support and address the reservations of others — as the PM did while allaying apprehensions of IUML leader E Ahmed at the UPA meeting.
Even as the numbers game remains tight, RJD’s Lalu Yadav, in his typical style, claimed a "thumping majority". He even pegged the figure at 290 after an 80-minute meeting of the UPA coordination committee held at the PM’s residence and presided over by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
"If we win the trust vote, the nuclear deal will get through.... If we don’t, the deal will be over,” he added, clearing doubts about the fate of the pact if the government lost the vote. "It is a deal not with the US only but with 45 other countries...” he said to those who thought the country was being tied to Washington’s apron strings.
Barring LJP’s Ram Vilas Paswan and AIMIM’s Owaisi, other UPA allies were present at the meet, including PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti and JMM’s H Murmu. "Every leader who spoke endorsed that the parting of ways with the Left on the nuclear issue was sad. But there is no bitterness among us...At the same time now we have look ahead and accept the challenge with courage and conviction," said Mukherjee. On their part, NCP’s Sharad Pawar and RJD’s Lalu Yadav quipped that the UPA and Left will get together again after the next elections.