Numbers game gets tighter, Cong nervous
The Congress’ claim of having the numbers in the Lok Sabha to tide over the confidence vote is laced with apprehension. Every single MP will matter in the close numerical battle.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was to have returned late on Wednesday night from the G8 summit in Japan, is expected to take the vote around July 21-22. But the final date would be worked out when he meets President Pratibha Patil on Thursday.
The Congress is pegging its hopes on the support of 280-plus members and abstentions from non-United Progressive Alliance groupings. However, there are many ifs and buts.
Congress leaders are not taking the Samajwadi Party’s (SP’s) claim of having 39 MPs at face value. There is a question mark over at least three — Munnawar Hasan, Jai Prakash and the jailed Atiq Ahmed.
In the Congress itself, there are suspects like Kuldeep Bishnoi, who has floated his own outfit in Haryana and may defy the party whip.
“The fact that the Lok Sabha elections are around the corner has added uncertainty to the numbers game. Even if we have the numbers on paper, no one knows how it will play out in the House,” said a Congress leader.
The Congress has intensified its search for additional supporters among smaller parties and independents. It is eyeing the Rashtriya Lok Dal’s three MPs and the National Conference’s two members.