Prime Minister Manmohan Singh won the confidence of Lok Sabha, and its approval of the nuclear deal on Tuesday. He also got back at his critics in a language and manner he hasn’t used in 17 years of his political life.
<b1>The vote went like this: UPA and it allies got 275 and the opposition 256. It was a hard fought victory, won with the help of 10 abstentions and some cross voting from the opposition camp.
"India is prepared to take its rightful place in the comity of nations," Singh said outside Parliament, as a bank of cameras went off at the same time.
The government will now press ahead with the nuclear agreement and its unfinished reforms agenda. "This government has an absolute majority and this is a confidence to go forward," Finance Minister P Chidambaram said.
The PM is also expected to reshuffle his cabinet to include people who can deliver on the UPA agenda. Some vacancies will also be filled, paving the way for the return of JMM leader Shibu Soren.
UPA government’s erstwhile Left front allies had not only opposed the nuclear deal but also its attempts to reform insurance, banking and pension funds. "They wanted me behave like their bonded slave," Singh said in a speech he was unable to deliver in the House. But he tabled it.
The speech shows a rare side to the mild-mannered prime minister. "To fulfill his ambitions," he said about Leader of Opposition LK Advani, “he has made at least three attempts to topple our government."
"But on each occasion his astrologers have misled him." The PM then went on to advice Advani to "change his astrologers for his sake and India’s sake".
Advani had been extremely critical of the prime minister in his speech on Monday. It was Singh’s turn on Tuesday: "before leveling charges of incompetence on others, Shri Advani should do some introspection."