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UPA's Survival On 22nd July? And Aftermath
UPA says left suffers from Stockholm Syndrome.

<!--emo&Tongue--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/tongue.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='tongue.gif' /><!--endemo--> Pot. <!--emo&Tongue--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/tongue.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='tongue.gif' /><!--endemo--> Kettle. <!--emo&Tongue--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/tongue.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='tongue.gif' /><!--endemo--> Black.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Cracks in SP widen </b>
Navin Upadhyay /Nidhi Sharma | New Delhi
More erosion in Congress
The Government's chances of surviving the July 22 trust vote received a fresh jolt on Friday amid reports of cracks widening in the Samajwadi Party and another Congress MP from Haryana going the Opposition's way.   

As the Government went all out to woo every single MP, it also faced renewed allegation of offering huge bribes. Rebel SP MP Munnawar Hasan claimed <b>he was offered Rs 25 crore </b>to back the UPA during the trust vote while the single-<b>MP Nationalist Loktantrik Party said Rs 15 crore </b>were promised for a vote.
  <!--emo&Big Grin--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='biggrin.gif' /><!--endemo-->  <!--emo&Big Grin--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='biggrin.gif' /><!--endemo-->
The political activities are expected to intensify further on Saturday when BSP chief Mayawati and former Prime Minister Deve Gowda arrive in Delhi. Gowda will be meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who called him on Friday morning and urged him to back the trust vote. On the other hand, Mayawati is expected to hold talks with Left leaders and TRC chief Chandrasekhar Rao to mobilise numbers against the UPA Government. Mayawati has drafted Rao to woo RLD leader Ajit Singh. Rao met Singh on Saturday evening. The TRS leader will call on Deve Gowda on Saturday and if that meeting went well, Mayawati may also call on the former Prime Minister.

Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu will also land here on Sunday and hold talks with left leaders and Ajit Singh. The entire exercise could climax in a meeting of the Left, the UNPA, the BSP, JD(S) and TRS.
<!--QuoteBegin-Shambhu+Jul 19 2008, 03:51 AM-->QUOTE(Shambhu @ Jul 19 2008, 03:51 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->UPA says left suffers from Stockholm Syndrome.

<!--emo&Tongue--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/tongue.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='tongue.gif' /><!--endemo--> Pot.  <!--emo&Tongue--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/tongue.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='tongue.gif' /><!--endemo--> Kettle.  <!--emo&Tongue--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/tongue.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='tongue.gif' /><!--endemo--> Black.

My favorite was when Chatterjee said he does not belong to any party, he is above party
BJP slams UPA,says tax on petro products a revenue source</b>

Bangalore (PTI): Criticising the Prime Minister and Finance Minister for the soaring inflation, the BJP slammed the UPA, saying huge tax structure on petroleum products has become a major source of revenue for the Central Government.

BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said here revenue from taxes on petroleum products has gone up from Rs 40,000 crore in 2002 to Rs 5,72,000 crore this year and asked if "all time high revenue collection" was achieved because of this.

"Have petroleum products become a source of revenue?", he asked at a news conference here.

"Instead of rationalising the tax structure (on petroleum products), why is the government using ad valorem cost structure in these hard times to the country", he said, adding, "the Government is still bent upon huge tax structure on petroleum products".

According to him, tax on retail petrol in Delhi is 49 per cent while it's 26 per cent on diesel.

He termed record inflation as a "virtual holocaust and death warrant for aam admi".

<b>Sonia meets party MPs ahead of trust vote</b>

New Delhi (PTI): As suspense mounted ahead of the July 22 trust vote in Parliament, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today met her party MPs asking them to put up a united face to ensure Government's victory in the trial of strength.

Mrs 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 today 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 today.

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 Friday.
Former US envoy to India backs N-deal</b>

New York (PTI): Backing the Indo-US nuclear deal, ex-American ambassador to India Frank G Wisner has, nevertheless, said that even if the pact does not go through, it is bound to come up later in some other form between the two countries in the context of energy cooperation.

Wisner, who was the American envoy to New Delhi from 1994 to 1997, said the future of the deal was uncertain, but he was not worried by it as the bilateral ties covered a much wider canvas, including cooperation in military and technological fields.

Stressing on the importance of the deal going through during the few remaining months of the Bush administration's term, he said the new government which takes over in January next would take its own time to study the deal.
Chidambaram for 'rational debate' on nuclear deal
Hyderabad (PTI): Voicing "anguish and disappointment" over absence of a "rational debate" on the Indo-US nuclear deal, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday made a strong pitch for wider discussions to understand the benefits of the agreement.

The civil nuclear cooperation with the US and other countries would end nuclear isolation and help India gain access to reactors, fuel and technology in return of the promise to place certain civilian nuclear facilities under safeguards in a phased manner, he said delivering the sixth Convocation Address at the NALSAR University of Law here.

"Thanks to our nuclear isolation since 1998, the capacity utilisation of nuclear power plants has steadily declined from 90 per cent in 2001-02 to 54 per cent in 2007-08. India wishes to end this nuclear isolation," Chidambaram said.

Asking lawyers, legal scholars, students and institutions like NALSAR to join the debate to help highlight the facts, he said: "If a reasoned debate had taken place, the answers to some of the issues (concerning the nuke deal) would have been self-evident and answers to other issues could have been found through application of law and logic to the facts of the case."
<b>Left, BSP, UNPA to discuss Mayawati as PM
July 19, 2008 17:09 IST
Last Updated: July 19, 2008 17:31 IST

With signs of the trust vote becoming a close call, leaders of the Left parties, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the United National Progressive Alliance will meet on Sunday to discuss the possible scenario if the government falls, including a change of guard with BSP supremo Mayawati as the prime minister.

Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Prakash Karat, Telugu Desam Party supremo N Chandrababu Naidu [Images] said the leaders would discuss "all possibilities" including a BSP-led Third Front government with Left support.

When asked whether he would accept Mayawati as the prime minister, Naidu asked, "Why should we be against it? We are not averse to it. But we have to discuss all these issues."

During the day, the TDP leader met Communist Party of India General Secretary A B Bardhan and Mayawati to mobilise support against the United Progressive Alliance government.

"We are working on a joint strategy to oppose the nuclear deal," Naidu said after meeting Mayawati.

Soren gets invitation for UPA dinner

Meanwhile, reaching out to the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha whose five MPs will be crucial during the confidence motion on July 22, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] invited its chief Shibu Soren and other Lok Sabha members of the party to his dinner for UPA constituents on Sunday.

Invitations have been sent to all five JMM MPs, including Suman Mahto, Sudam Marandi, Hemalal Murmu and Teklal Mahto.

The invitation assumes significance as the JMM is said to be divided on whether or not to support the government.

Though its Chief Whip Teklal Mahto insists that all five JMM MPs will vote in favour of the confidence motion, Soren has not commented on the issue amid reports that he is in touch with the National Democratic Alliance as well following its offer to help make him the chief minister of Jharkhand.

It is also learnt that a group of party MPs will meet Congress President Sonia Gandhi [Images]. Meanwhile, the JMM postponed till Sunday the crucial meeting of its parliamentary Board which was scheduled for Saturday evening.

Shahid Siddiqui, Samajwadi Party rebel
<b>'We should not be afraid of the US'</b>
July 19, 2008
Shahid Siddiquin
Shahid Siddiqui. Till Saturday afternoon, he was the face of the Samajwadi Party in New Delhi. He was the voice of the Muslims within the party. And he was the expert on the nuclear deal, someone who expressed full-fledged support for the deal.

On Saturday afternoon, he defected and joined Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party. He slammed the India-US nuclear deal. "It is against our national interest. I was suffocating and under pressure from my community. This deal will only take us into the dark. I will surely join the BSP and will fight for the Muslims and Dalits," Siddiqui, standing next to Mayawati, told journalists.

But 48 hours ago, he had explained in this interview to rediff.com's Krishna Kumar P why he supported the deal and how the BSP was the Samajwadi Party's main enemy.

The Rajya Sabha MP also said all Samajwadi Party members of the Lok Sabha were united and there was no reason to fear that the United Progressive Alliance might lose the trust vote. He, however, ended the interview by saying that there was no telling who would vote how till the time the votes are actually cast.

The only indication that not all was well was a survey that his newspaper Nai Duniya had published, saying that 70 per cent of Muslims were against the nuclear deal. But he dispelled that doubt too in the interview.

What is your stand on the nuclear deal as an MP and what is your party's stand?

I have -- and my party too has -- always been for the deal. We think India has reached a stage where we can confidently deal with the United States. We feel India has arrived and we don't have to behave like a colonised country anymore. We are an equal power today.

We are investing more in countries around the world and we should not be afraid of the US.

And we were never against nuclear energy. Of course, there were certain grey areas that were bound by the Hyde Act. Those apprehensions had to be removed. These were issues relating to our foreign policy that could not be explained in public.

What were the reasons for the delay in accepting the deal?

The mistake of the Centre was it never discussed it with us. Many things were clarified when the Centre got in touch with us and by former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam. We re-looked them from our viewpoint and not from the Left's point of view as we had done earlier. We have tremendous respect for the Left, but they have their own distorted view of the globe.

And finally, no deal is perfect. A deal is itself giving and taking. We have given something and have got something. Overall, we should have the confidence that it is a good bargain for India.

Why did you not take any effort to clear these doubts earlier?

First up, we didn't want to annoy the Left. The Left was talking to the government, but we were kept out. They never asked us anything or shared anything with us. Anyway, it was not that we never cleared our doubts. There were a lot of things that we questioned before but never answered.

Nobody talked to the Samajwadi Party in these three years. They never thought we were worth taking the support of.

Finally, our supporting the deal does not mean we agree with the policies of the UPA. We still disagree with most of the things. We are supporting the deal on principle. Mulayam Singh Yadav had done many things. When Dr Kalam's term ended, we believed he was the best, and wanted a second term for him. The Left opposed this and they were so annoyed with us and angry with us, they broke and denounced us.

Ultimately the BJP, the Congress and the whole nation agreed that he was the best president we ever had. People are saying the Samajwadi Party is now supporting the UPA for its gain. Tell me, did we take any money to support Dr Kalam? Like then, today also we are supporting an issue that we believe in.

So, what are these differences that you needed clarification from the UPA?

Broadly speaking it was our foreign policy. The Hyde Act said India's foreign policy should be in congruence with the US's policy. Iran found mention some four or five times. But then India worked on ties with Iran and the government went public saying that they were for friendly ties with Iran. The National Security Adviser's visit to Iran, the foreign minister's visit and Iran President Ahmedinejad's visit to India all happened in the last three months. So our concerns on that issue was allayed.

That was our major concern and not because Iran is a Muslim nation. It was because India cannot afford a war in the Middle East. India gets it highest remittance form the Gulf. If there is a war, India will be the first sufferer in terms of oil also. Nobody is talking about the real reason for the oil price rise. It is the threat to Iran and thus the speculation arising about a war there. A war in the Gulf is against our national interest.

After all major issues were settled, there was this survey in your newspaper that said...

That survey was planned earlier, like all other surveys. Unfortunately, it coincided with this nuclear deal issue and it blew up.

That survey said 70 per cent of Muslims interviewed were against the nuclear deal. Can you share the methodology and other findings of the survey?

5,000 people from Bangalore, Bombay, Calcutta, Patna, Delhi, Malegaon, Muradabad and a few other largely Muslim-dominated small towns in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were interviewed. It talks about their views on the Sachar Committee report and other relevant issues. There was even a question about whether Obama will be better for the Muslim world and 70 per cent felt they were the same.

So, in this survey, 70 per cent said they were against the nuclear deal.

But when they were asked what major issue will decide their vote in the upcoming general election, they said inflation.

The Muslim opposition to the nuclear deal does not mean an electoral setback for the Samajwadi Party?

People generally have very poor opinion of Muslims. The middle class, the media and politicians have only contempt for Muslims. They think the average Muslim votes on issues like Pakistan, Iran and Islam. But the truth is that he votes on local issues.

But the above said groups think they a homogenous vote block without any personality. Every Muslim is an individual who thinks. They don't vote in a similar pattern from one district to another. Even in a same district, the voting pattern differs from the rich to poor and the farmer to the businessman.

Can you explain how the Samajwadi Party-Congress came together?

Contrary to the assumption that it happened in the past three weeks, the coming together started more than a year back. We were for good ties with the Congress even during the UP polls. For us, the BSP was the major enemy. But the Congress saw us as enemies. They thought unless the SP was destroyed, they will never become a 200+ party at the Centre.

When they suffered major losses they realised what a big monster they had created in the BSP and understood they needed the SP's help they started sending overtures to us. They started saying they are not against the SP, but against only one person.

But we told them our support comes as a complete package. Mr Amar Singh is a senior leader. But even if it had been a lower member, the Congress has no business telling us who to keep and who to sideline in the party.

In October the Congress said they will give us eight ministries for our support.

So, Mr Amar Singh said if I am in the way of the party's interest, I will resign.

The party did not accept his resignation and the Congress also started speaking to him.

Since they knew the BSP was emerging stronger, they Congress knew they had to check its rise. They also sensed the Left would go. Mr Amar Singh can be a very bad enemy and a very good friend. Now he is a friend of Smt Sonia Gandhi [Images] and Rahul Gandhi [Images]. He is their Sankatmochan. He was at one point the Sankatmochan of the Left and also even the BJP. But it is a pity that Advani who used to address him brother is calling him names now.

What about your party dissidents? Do you have the support of all your 39 MPs?

This is again a very unfortunate development thanks to the media. They have been playing up the issue of Munawar Hassan. But he left the party a year-and-a-half ago and is working for the Bahujan Samaj Party. We have gone to the privileges committee, but the Congress was dragging its feet on a decision.

But isn't his name in the list of 39 MPs you submitted to the President?

Yes, he is our MP. WE will issue a whip, and if somebody defies the whip, the matter will be addressed accordingly.
link<b>UPA may scrape through trust vote, feels CPI-M</b>

July 19, 2008 16:57 IST
The assessment of the party leaders was that the confidence vote of July 22 would be "very unpredictable and close." The confidence exuded by the government and the UPA when the Left parties withdrew support that they would get over 280 votes in favour, has now waned, they felt.
Even if the government wins the trust vote, "it will not be a smooth affair to run the government as there could be voting on each and every issue. The UPA, we feel, will be under tremendous pressure to cobble a majority for each and every vote," the senior party leader said.</b>

Regarding the new relationship established between the Left and the BSP, he said this was limited to the trust vote in which the party headed by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister

Mayawati would vote against the UPA at the Centre, taking a position opposing the Indo-US nuclear deal.
<b>Jolt for SP, another MP walks away</b>

July 19, 2008 15:48 IST

Just hours before the crucial vote of confidence for the survival of the UPA government, Samajwadi Party (SP) on Saturday got another jolt when its Jaleshwar MP S P Singh Baghel revolted and announced to vote against the motion in the Lok Sabha.

With the joining of Baghel in the dissident camp, now the strength of the MPs opposing the SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's decision to support the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government over the Indo-US Nuclear deal rose to four. Earlier, Muzaffarnagar MP Munnawar Hussain, Mohanlalganj MP Jaiprakash Rawat and Hamirpur MP Raj Narain Budholia announced their opposition to the party leadership.

However, Baghel, who was a very close associate of Yadav, attended yesterday's party meet at New Delhi.

Announcing his decision to oppose the confidence motion, Baghel told mediapersons at Agra [Images] that he would vote against the whip of the party.

"I am totally against the nuke deal and the party leadership did not take us in confidence before announcing support to the UPA government over the issue," he said.

Though refusing to admit that his decision to oppose the party's wish was not driven by any move of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Baghel said, ''It was my personal decision to oppose the move."

He said he attended the meeting of the party MPs at New Delhi, but did not join the lunch in protest against the support to the nuke deal.

<b>Maya has potential to become PM: Bardhan</b>

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | July 19, 2008 14:21 IST

CPI leader A B Bardhan on Saturday said that he had no plans to work on making UP chief minister Mayawati as the next prime minister of India.

Speaking to rediff.com, the CPI leader said at the moment their main attention was to ensure the defeat of Manmohan Singh's [Images] government.

"I floated an idea that seems to be working. We plan to work on it after the confidence motion is defeated. But we have no plans to make her as alternative prime minister right now," he said.

"But she has the potential and qualities to become prime minister of India," Bardhan said.

"We were happy that 12 SP members abstained from the parliamentary board of the party. I understand that so far 7 of SP parliamentarians have crossed over to the BSP and they will vote against the motion," he said.
<b>Suspended BJP MP undecided on trust vote</b>

July 19, 2008 16:50 IST
Last Updated: July 19, 2008 17:29 IST

Suspended Bharatiya Janata Party MP Somabhai Patel is yet to take a decision on which way he will vote during the July 22 trust vote in Lok Sabha.

"The BJP cannot issue a whip to any of its suspended MPs and that is why I am free to take my own decision on the trust vote," he told PTI by phone today.
The MP from Surendranagar said he is being approached by "several influential and powerful forces" to take a decision on the confidence vote, sought by the United Progressive Alliance government after the Left parties withdrew support over the India-US nuclear deal.</b>

"I will take the decision only after reviewing the entire situation," he said.

Patel said he is leaving for Delhi, where he will have consultations with "various groups" before taking a decision on the trust vote.

The Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party, a key member of the ruling UPA, is in close touch with Patel, sources close to him said.

BJP sources said local party leaders have not contacted Patel and it is up to him to take a decision. Patel and another Lok Sabha MP Vallabh Kathiriya were suspended for 'anti-party' activities ahead of the Gujarat assembly election last December.

Another BJP MP, Babubhai Katara, was suspended for his alleged involvement in a human trafficking case. The MP from Dahod, currently on bail, has said he would follow the BJP whip and vote against the government.

Last week, the BJP revoked the suspension of Kathiriya, the MP from Rajkot, after he tendered an apology.

<b>PM won't resign before trust vote: Congress</b>

July 19, 2008 14:45 IST

The Congress on Saturday said there was no question of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] resigning before the July 22 trust vote as he will comfortably win the trial of strength.

"The question does not arise as he will win the trust vote comfortably," Congress media department chief M Veeraapa Moily said on being asked by reporters whether PM would step down before Tuesday's vote in Lok Sabha.
Asked about Congress President Sonia Gandhi [Images] meeting with party MPs, Moily said, "The MPs are meeting her out of courtesy and they are politically mature enough to take the message of benefits of nuclear deal to the people."</b>

Moily said the Congress has information that some MPs from Shiv Sena, Akali Dal and BJP would abstain but declined to name them.
In reply to a question whether the JMM MPs are on board, Moily said "as of now they are with the UPA".</b>[B]

On getting the support of Ajit Singh-led RLD, the senior Congress leader said, "Ajit Singh will take his own decision."

<b>We will try to form non-Congress govt: TRS chief</b>

July 19, 2008 17:56 IST

TRS chief K Chandrashekhar Rao on Friday met Mayawati and said the Third Front will try to form a non-Congress government with the BSP supremo as the prospective prime ministerial candidate.
Rao, whose party has three members in the Lok Sabha, attacked Congress President Sonia Gandhi [Images], saying she is not for formation of separate state of Telengana.</b>

"Behenji (sister Mayawati) has always given her blessing for Telangana," TRS chief, who has been fighting for creation of the separate state out of Andhra Pradesh, told reporters after meeting the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister.

During the meeting, the two leaders held discussions related to the July 22 vote of confidence and devised ways in which the government could be defeated on the floor of Parliament.

Asked about the prospects of Mayawati becoming the Prime Minister, Rao said, "It will be a happy moment. I was the first to suggest that she should be the prime minister." Attacking Sonia, he said she does not want formation of Telengana. "In her speech in Nellore (two days ago), she said Jai Andhra', Rao said.

<b>Sonia asks party MPs to 'stand solidly' behind govt.</b>

New Delhi (PTI): With the trust vote becoming a tight race, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Saturday asked party MPs to stand solidly behind the Government.

Gandhi told the MPs to "stand solidly behind the Government and vote for it," party General Secretary Digvijay Singh told reporters.

Congress MP from Amethi Rahul Gandhi was in the group of party MPs from Uttar Pradesh who met the Congress President.

AICC leaders emphasised that no meaning should be attached to the absence of some MPs during the meetings with Gandhi as everyone has been "accounted for".

They said party MP from Karnataka, Ambrish, who has not been able to come because of his tight schedule would be in good time for the confidence vote. The same is the case with two other party MPs, including V Naik.

Congress media department chief Veerappa Moily, who is also in-charge of Andhra Pradesh and Assam, said those MPs from the state who could not come have intimated him about their reasons.

During their brief state-wise meetings with Gandhi, the MPs raised their local issues and gave suggestions on ways to strengthen the organisation.

Earlier, Moily had asserted that there was no question of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh resigning before the July 22 trust vote as he will comfortably win the trial of strength.

"The question does not arise as he will win the trust vote comfortably," Moily said on being asked by reporters whether Singh would step down before Tuesday's vote in the Lok Sabha.
Trust vote will seal UPA govt's fate: Venkaiah</b>

Tirupati (PTI):The crucial confidence vote on the floor of the Lok Sabha on July 22 will seal the fate of UPA Government headed by Manmohan Singh, BJP Senior National Leader M Venkaiah Naidu said on Saturday.

Addressing a press conference here, Naidu alleged that Congress has started "making unfair means,"<b>

The fall of the UPA was definite and at the same time the NDA would not try to form the government, instead, it would prefer to go for a fresh mandate, Naidu said.
The UPA government has "failed miserably" on all fronts particularly in controlling the inflation, terrorism, problems relating to farmers.Price rise of essential items besides the N-deal would be main agenda during the trust motion in the Lok Sabha, he said.

"We have not asked the UPA to go and we have never made any effort for the motion of confidence vote but it was only done by the political partners of UPA, he said. The N-deal was unilateral decision in a hurried manner without comprehensive deliberation on the issue by the UPA which had not taken the BJP and even their partners the left parties into confidence, Naidu alleged
<b>JMM to support UPA in trust vote</b>

New Delhi (PTI) JMM, which has five members in the Lok Sabha, on Saturday made it clear that it would support the Government's confidence vote in Parliament.

"We are with the UPA," party's chief whip Teklal Mahato told reporters here ahead of the parliamentary party meeting which will finalise its stand on the July 22 trust vote.

He denied any division in the party over the issue of support and said party chief Shibu Soren will take the final decision soon.

Asked about reports that NDA had offered Jharkhand chief ministership to Soren, Teklal Mahato said, "if he has to become chief minister, it should be on a UPA offer."

The parliamentary party will meet this evening to take the final call.
<b>Political pitch in India reaches crescendo ahead of trust vote</b>

* PM Singh calls Janata Dal (Secular) chief Deve Gowda to seek support of party's three votes

By Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: Political activities in India hit the crescendo on Friday with all parties busy engineering defections to muster support for and against the crucial trust vote the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government seeks in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

The political activities would spur up further on Saturday when Bahujan Samaj Party leader and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati arrives for a discussion with Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu, amid speculation that she may be persuaded to lead the third force of UNPA that became headless after Mulayam Singh Yadav shifted his Samajwadi Party's allegiance to the Congress.

On a day when the Congress ultimately secured five votes of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) with its chief<b> 'Guruji' Shibu Soren finally ditching BJP's offers and opting to back the UPA government, both Congress and BJP were engaged in an intense seizing of each other's MPs even while at least 16 MPs that included independents and those belonging to smaller parties were still sitting on the fence.</b>
Singh support: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is personally busy mustering support. So far he was ringing up leaders of the UPA to discuss the preparedness for the confidence vote but on Friday he called up Janata Dal (Secular) chief and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda to seek support of his party's three votes. Deve Gowda complained that he was never consulted on the nuclear deal and declared to make public his party's stance after he meets the prime minister here on Saturday.</b>

Congress President Sonia Gandhi too spoke to DMK leader Dayanidhi Maran, who is nursing his personal hurt from his party chief M Karunanidhi getting him out of the Union Ministry and is widely reported to abstain from voting. Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar was still working on the Shiv Sena to explore the possibility of its 12 MPs remaining absent or abstaining from voting.
A day after Harish Nagpal, a Congress-backed independent MP from Uttar Pradesh, walked into the BJP, the Congress claimed to have secured support of two suspended BJP MPs of Gujarat -- rebel Somabhai Patel and fake passport racketeer Babubhai Katara -- to vote for the government.</b> Only two days ago, the BJP had revoked suspension of another MP Dr Vallabhbhai Kathiria, who was suspended with Somabhai for campaigning against Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the November assembly elections, to stop him from crossing over to the Congress. <b>The BJP was working on defection of three Congress MPs of Karnataka -- RL Jalappa, Ambareesh and Tajeshwiri while Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was reported to have bagged at least three MPs of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad to join his Janata Dal(U).</b>

Meanwhile, sick and ailing MPs are being airlifted in desperate measures by party managers. Film star-turned-MP Dharmendra of the BJP is also being reportedly rushed from Los Angeles where he was shooting for a film so that he is in time for the July 22 trust vote sought by the UPA government in the Lok Sabha.

<b>LJP confident of govt. winning trust vote</b>

New Delhi (PTI): The Lok Janashakti Party on Saturday exuded confidence that the government would win the trust vote and accused the Left parties and Opposition BJP of "double standards" in blaming the Congress-led UPA of resorting to horse-trading to sail through the floor test.
At a press conference here, LJP Chief Ram Vilas Paswan projected a figure of 281 MPs on the Government's side well above the magic mark of 271.

"This (the trust vote) is just a formality. The Government is in majority and in addition to the 281 MPs we already have, more would join us before the trust vote," he said.
Paswan said parties opposed to the Government would suffer badly in the next elections as only the UPA has a secular face left now.

"Most of the MPs are not voting on the basis of any ideology but solely on self interest," the Union Minister said.

Coming down heavily on the Left, he predicted their move would cost them dearly in the next elections. "They are also not following any ideology. Otherwise they would not have decided to vote alongside the BJP".

Branding Mayawati-led BSP as a "opportunist" party, he said, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister only has a casteist agenda.

Ninety per cent of the MPs have not read the deal. "All the parties are adopting double standards while accusing the UPA of trying to break opposition ranks," he said.
Paswan asserted that the Indo-US nuclear deal was crucial for the country's development and would help make India become a developed nation.

"Those opposing the deal have only their personal and party's interest in mind and not the larger interest of the nation as a whole," he said.
The Bihar leader said there was no reason for MPs from his party to switch over as they would vote on the ideological issue of secularism.

Paswan is understood to be favouring giving a cabinet berth to JMM Chief Shibu Soren to win him over to the UPA side.

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