Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will seek a vote of confidence “as early as possible” in response to the Left’s withdrawal of support to the UPA on the India-US civil nuclear agreement.
According to a Rashtrapati Bhavan communiqué issued after the PM called on President Pratibha Patil on Thursday evening, the PM told Patil that “he and his cabinet colleagues (were) keen to seek a vote of confidence as early as possible.” The PM spent 30 minutes with the President. The communique was based on a letter he handed to her.
<b1>The PM will communicate the exact date of the trust vote to the President on Friday. There was speculation on Thursday that the government may choose a date around July 22 to call a special Lok Sabha session for the vote. Though the date will be finalised only after meetings of the UPA and the Congress Working Committee (CWC), coalition MPs have been asked to be in Delhi by July 22. This will be the first time since the beginning of the coalition era in 1989 that a PM will seek a trust vote after four years in office — six PMs before Singh faced trust votes inside their first couple of years.
The UPA coordination committee meets on Friday morning; the CWC in the evening. Both meetings, to be presided by Sonia Gandhi in her capacity as UPA chairperson and Congress president respectively, will seek to project a picture of unity in the party and the UPA against the backdrop of the Left’s withdrawal of support to the government.
The PM, who returned from Japan shortly after midnight Wednesday, met with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, and the Congress Core Group.
The UPA and the CWC will also consider the report sent to Sonia by Mukherjee on the UPA-Left consultations on the deal that came to an abrupt end with the Left’s July 8 decision to call it quits.
The Congress is breathing a little easy with the 39-member SP on board. It is assiduously cultivating smaller parties and individual MPs to either support the confidence motion or to abstain or absent themselves.
Two SP MPs who are estranged from their party leadership, Raj Babbar and Beni Prasad Verma, have already met Sonia Gandhi and committed their support.
Union Minister Kapil Sibal appealed to all parties including the BJP, JD(U) and Akali Dal to support the deal.
On his part, following an NDA meeting, Leader of the Opposition LK Advani expressed hope that a majority would vote against the government.
Advani, however, ruled out any floor coordination with the Left on the issue.