Indian govt seeks allies to win confidence vote | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 11, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 11, 2008

Indian govt seeks allies to win confidence vote

Left vows to make life tough for Manmohan

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India's embattled coalition government was yesterday in talks with other parties in a bid to ensure it can win a confidence vote sparked by a withdrawal of support from left-wingers, officials said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Congress-led administration lost its majority after a bloc of leftists and communists stopped backing the government because of their opposition to a nuclear deal with the United States.
Singh was to call on President Pratibha Patil later Thursday to fix a date for the confidence vote, a government spokesman said, as Congress party leaders lobbied smaller parties and independent lawmakers to cobble together the numbers.
At present, Congress and its allies have 225 assured seats in India's directly elected 545-member lower house of parliament, but it is way short of a simple majority after 59 left-wing lawmakers withdrew support.
Last week, the regional socialist Samajwadi Party with 39 MPs promised to vote with the government but news reports say some within the group could rebel and side with the opposition.
"What we are trying to do is to get more than the 272 required to win the confidence vote," said a senior Congress minister, who wished to remain unnamed.
Singh argues the pact is crucial for India's energy security.
But left-wing parties and the Hindu nationalist opposition insist the deal would bind India too closely to the United States and runs counter to India's status as a figurehead in the non-aligned movement.
A day after taking back their legislative support to Manmohan Singh's government, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left parties on Thursday vowed to make it "impossible for the government to go ahead with the deal".
They also believe that allowing UN inspections of the country's civil nuclear programme -- as demanded by the Americans -- would harm India's strategic weapons programme.

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