The Samajwadi Party is in a position to deliver support of 34 MPs to the Manmohan Singh government — as it looked on Friday.
Already five short on its promised support of all 39 party MPs, the SP is now fighting to keep its members united. At a meeting of the SP’s parliamentary party, a whip was issued to the MPs, directing them not to leave Delhi until the trust vote. Party leaders are even considering keeping the MPs at a safe house.
Rebel MP Munawwar Hasan told reporters that seven SP MPs would vote against the government. “About four other MPs are likely to join us,” he said. Hasan is the third party MP so far to have announced that they would defy the party whip. Rajnarayan Budholia and Jai Prakash Rawat are the other two.
The party has counted out two other MPs, Ateeq Ahmed and Afzal Ansari, who are presently in jail. “Under fear from the Mayawati government, these two have also decided to vote against the government,” a party leader said. That makes it five votes against the UPA.
At the parliamentary party meeting, there were 10 absentees. Apart from the three rebels and two in prison, the others included S.Bangarappa, Saleem Sherwani and Usha Verma. These three could not attend the meeting because of personal preoccupations, but they are likely to vote for the government. Two suspended members — Beni Prasad Verma and Raj Babbar — were also absent, but they too are likely to back the UPA. However, some other MPs are reportedly in touch with the BSP and are weighing their options.
To counter the BSP propaganda about the nuclear deal being “anti-Islam”, SP’s Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh met Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari, and got him to endorse the SP stand.