Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Congress on Monday denied allegations of the United Progressive Alliance government indulging in “horse-trading” or “hobnobbing with power brokers” to shore up a majority during the trust vote in the Lok Sabha on July 22.

“Merely making allegations cannot substitute for hard facts. It can only be the outpouring of those who have realised that they are sidelined and marginalised from the national mainstream. These are the divisive tactics of those who are frustrated and know that they have defeat staring at them in the face on July 22,” AICC spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said .

He said the Left parties needed to introspect about their original objective, keeping communal forces at bay and consolidating secular forces. He was referring to the Left leaders establishing contact with the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Telugu Desam Party and the Janata Dal (Secular) among others to defeat the government on the nuclear deal in the trust vote.

However, when asked if the Congress had not reached out to the BJP by asking “Bhishma Pitahmah” A.B. Vajpayee to support the nuclear deal, Mr. Singhvi said this was done in the “national interest.”

“The Congress feels that in the national interest no party should back off [from supporting the nuclear deal]. If they support, it does not mean that the [BJP’s] communal history will change. When the Left is dividing all those secular votes, we should be together on the deal.”

On the demand made by the Samajwadi Party for imposition of a windfall tax on the Reliance Industries Limited’s oil business and the meeting on Tuesday between Chairman of Reliance Industries Limited Mukesh Ambani with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mr. Singhvi said there should be transparency about these things, which should be in the public domain.

“Everyone has the right to lay such demands but any decision would be made on merits. In any coalition the process of give and take will be there. The demand for windfall tax is nothing new. It was raised by the Left parties too. It will be decided by the [concerned] Ministry.”

On the reported demand by Shibu Soren’s Jharkhand Mukti Morcha for a ministerial berth, Mr. Singhvi said it was the Prime Minister’s prerogative, but added that he had been acquitted in a murder case and had been a Minister earlier.

Asked whether the party felt that Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee should resign, Mr. Singhvi said, “It is for a different party [CPI-M] and individual to decide. Parliamentary history and convention tells us that the Speaker’s post is a party-less post. He sheds his colour, context and political affiliation when he becomes Speaker and that should be kept in mind.”