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Sonia meets party MPs ahead of July 22 trust vote

Congress president Sonia Gandhi meets her party MPs and asks them to put up a united face to ensure Govt's victory in the trial of strength.
By HT Correspondent | PTI, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 19, 2008 12:42 PM IST

As suspense mounted ahead of the July 22 trust vote in Parliament, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday met her party MPs and asked them to put up a united face to ensure government's victory in the trial of strength.

Gandhi began meeting Congress MPs in batches at her 10, Janpath residence as the party managers struggled hard to secure the magic figure of 271 required for the survival of the party-led coalition.

There was intense speculation on Saturday that four of the five JMM MPs would support the government but the party chief Shibu Soren, who is being wooed by both the ruling UPA and opposition NDA, kept his cards close to his chest.

Soren is reportedly insisting on his induction into the cabinet for extending his party's support. His party's parliamentary board is expected to take a decision on supporting the Government on Saturday.

However, JMM chief whip and Giridih MP Teklal Mahto told PTI "we are with the UPA. All the party MPs would vote in favour of the government."

Mahto's statement assumes significance in wake of the fortnight-long suspense being maintained by the party over the issue.

In the numbers game, the ruling UPA still appeared to be short of a dozen MPs for simple majority in the Lok Sabha which has an effective strength of 541 and was heavily banking on small groups like the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), National Conference and JD(S) but mixed signals were emanating from the Deve Gowda-led party.

Gowda is expected to make known his party's stand after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who had a telephonic talk with him on Friday.

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