New Delhi Bureau
UPA+ 275, Opposition 256, abstentions 10 in bitter contest
NEW DELHI: The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) on Tuesday won the trust vote in the Lok Sabha by a margin of 19 votes after a two-day debate, often marked by acrimony and allegations. The ruling coalition secured 275 votes as against 256 by the Opposition. As many as 10 members were absent or abstained from voting.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described the outcome as “a convincing victory” for the UPA government, the Congress and the supporting parties. “This will send a message to the world at large that India is prepared to take its rightful place in the comity of nations,” Dr. Singh told journalists after he emerged from the Parliament House.
“I thank all leaders of UPA, supporting parties, all Congress men and women who have worked unitedly with single-minded pursuit for this impressive victory,” he said.
On the other hand, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) described it as “corrupt victory” and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat said that it was a “sad day” for democracy.
Bahujan Samaj Party leader and U.P. Chief Minister Mayawati blamed the BJP for the UPA’s victory. “It is not a victory of the UPA but the result of the politics by the UPA and the NDA,” she asserted.
The Prime Minister could not give his reply in the House at the end of the debate as BJP members constantly chanted slogans, demanding his resignation in the wake of allegations of bribery. The proceedings were curtailed after the BJP members made dramatic allegations of some of them were bribed, and produced wads of currency notes in the House to support their case.
Asked for his comments on the sensational disclosures, Dr. Singh told journalists that the matter was with the Speaker and “we will cooperate with him” in taking necessary action in accordance with the provisions of law. “These developments have made me sad,” he added.
When the House reassembled at 6.30 p.m. after a series of adjournments, Speaker Somnath Chatterjee allowed smaller parties to make their brief interventions but these were drowned in the bouts of sloganeering and chants by the BJP members.
Asaduddin Owaisi of the All India Majlis-e-Muslimeen and Omar Abdullah of the National Conference could hardly be heard. Mr. Abdullah said there was no distinction between Muslims and Indians. The “real enemies are not nuclear deals like these but poverty, hunger, unemployment and lack of development,” the NC leader, who was Minister in the NDA regime said. He also referred to the Amarnath Yatra controversy and asserted that the pilgrimage, continuing for the past century, would continue as long as Kashmiris and Muslims remained in Srinagar and the Valley.
Other speakers from the smaller parties included Ranjeeta Ranjan of the Lok Jan Shakti Party, Hemlal Murmu of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, M.P. Veerendra Kumar of the JD(S), and Mehbooba Mufti of the People’s Democratic Party.
As the Prime Minister was not allowed to give his reply, it was laid on the table of the House and the Speaker moved on to the voting on the trust motion. Within seconds, the electronic score board displayed 253 votes in favour of the UPA government, 232 against it and two abstentions. Though the Speaker announced the result nearly an hour after that, Congress members and allies were seen walking up to the Prime Minister and congratulating him and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.