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Advani: seek vote of confidence

On the offensive: BJP leaders L.K. Advani (left) and Jaswant Singh addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday.

On the offensive: BJP leaders L.K. Advani (left) and Jaswant Singh addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: V. Sudershan

Neena Vyas

“Government has lost moral legitimacy to rule”

NEW DELHI: Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani on Saturday demanded that the Manmohan Singh government convene Parliament “immediately” and “seek the confidence of the House by moving a vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha.” For “all practical purposes the government had lost its majority” barring formal withdrawal of support by the Left parties expected in a day or two.

Mr. Advani’s charge — made at a crowded press conference addressed by him jointly with Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Jaswant Singh — was that the government had lost its “moral legitimacy” to rule and “whether it had the numbers or not to prove its majority could only be determined through a floor test.” There were reports, he noted, that the government would opt for a floor test, but if it failed to do so the BJP would ask the President to direct the government to prove its majority. Without a confidence vote, the government would have no right to continue in office. “The country should decide afresh” through a Lok Sabha poll, Mr. Advani suggested.

Describing recent political happenings as the “theatre of the absurd” and a “charade,” he said “the credibility of the Congress and the Samajwadi Party” lay in a “shambles.” The two parties had come together in the last one week on “unprincipled deals of convenience” which turned “yesterday’s adversaries” into “today’s allies.” The government, he said, had stopped governing and was only interested in its survival.

Mr. Advani said this minutes before Mr. Jaswant Singh virtually dropped a political bombshell by confirming that in the run-up to the presidential poll, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance had offered support to “any prime ministerial candidate of the United National Progressive Alliance’s (UNPA’s) choice [of which the SP is a major constituent]” if the Manmohan Singh government were to fall.

On the proposed India-United States nuclear deal, Mr. Advani said the government did not have the authority to execute any binding international agreement. The BJP would “renegotiate” the deal if it came to power.

Mr. Advani was asked what the BJP’s credibility was when it said it would renegotiate a possible nuclear deal as it had said in 1995 that it would “throw the Enron project into the Arabian Sea” but went ahead with it. Again, at the time of India entering the World Trade Organisation, the party said that when the BJP came to power India would walk out of the arrangement, but did nothing. Mr. Advani’s response was that he was now talking about the nuclear deal, not Enron or the WTO and “the people will determine our credibility.”

In a joint statement, they made it clear their party favoured a strategic alliance with the United States but it was opposed to the nuclear deal as it was “ill-conceived, ill-timed, ill-negotiated and hastily pushed through …”

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