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Why Cong breathes easy ahead of cut motions

April 26, 2010 22:36 IST

Even as the government is keeping its fingers crossed hoping there is no untoward incident when the demand for grants are put to guillotine at 6 pm on Tuesday, its managers are not leaving anything to chance -- contacting each Member of Parliament of not only the Congress party, but its allies as well, to ensure their presence in the House.

Apart from that, they are also in touch with leaders of other parties to make certain that the numbers come down from the opposition benches, if the opposition moves cut motions against the ministries of petroleum and fertilizer.

There was hope for the government with both the Houses of Parliament being repeatedly adjourned on Monday on the issue of 'phone tapping,' and the opposition unwilling to listen to what the government had to say.
The ruckus over phone tapping and the demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the ongoing Indian Premier League row may continue on Tuesday, and the House may again not be able to do any business.

A Rashtriya Janata Dal leader said they would not allow any work since there is a call for Bharat bandh on Tuesday and 'the Parliament is very much a part of Bharat.'

It is learnt that the MPs of both Samajwadi Party and RJD would create pandemonium in the House. If that continues till late evening, the demand for grants may be guillotined without the government having to face the floor test of voting on cut motions, which can only happen if there is order in the House and division is allowed.

Sources say that RJD may be working to a game plan set by the government, after the government went soft on party chief Lalu Prasad Yadav in the court cases. And as Lalu Yadav himself admits, "We have not pulled out support from the UPA government".

Coupled with this is his latest offering that his party cannot be seen to be voting alongside the BJP. This line of thinking was not in evidence last week.

The government is confident it has lined up Bahujan Samaj Party's 21 MPs behind them -- either to walk out thus bringing down the numbers, or to actively vote with the government.

The Congress is in touch with Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh, with independents, and is breathing easy, as it believes that no one wants the government to fall and that opposition parties would not move heaven and earth to bring their MPs to the House. The BJP has also issued a whip to its MPs to be present on Tuesday, as has the Left. But, the bottom line remains,  that no one wants elections soon.

Sources in the Left parties say that if voting does not take place on Tuesday because of chaos in the House, then the Left would press for voting during the passing of the finance bill, where it would move amendements to ensure division in the House, which is likely slated for April 30, after the prime minister returns from  the SAARC summit in Bhutan.

Voting on the finance bill would be one more floor test for the government since it would be duty-bound to step down if a money bill fails to be passed.

There are those who believe that the government would be happiest if the opposition continues to create chaos in the House, and as the phone tapping issue is a convenient ploy in the hands of the opposition for government bashing, it something which the government is not averse to at this stage. Or so believe certain sections, both within and outside the government.

Renu Mittal in New Delhi