The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Minus Left, no-trust vote loses steam

New Delhi, Feb. 11: With the Left not ready to support him, Mulayam Singh Yadav is unlikely to bring a no-confidence motion against the Manmohan Singh government over its Iran policy.

Five days ahead of the budget session, the Samajwadi Party chief met CPM general secretary Prakash Karat this evening to discuss a “joint strategy” in the House on Iran, but didn’t broach the subject of a no-confidence motion.

“He has not told me he is bringing a no-confidence motion. What we discussed was about evolving a joint strategy in and outside Parliament,” Karat said.

By the time he met Karat, Mulayam had more or less managed the numbers he needs to bring a no-trust motion following support from Telugu Desam chief Chandrababu Naidu today.

The half-an-hour meeting with Karat was Mulayam’s opportunity to gauge the Left’s mood and assess how far it might be ready to proceed against the government on Iran and economic reforms.

The CPM, however, at its recent politburo meeting, had ruled out making any move that could topple the UPA government and open a window for the BJP. This means the Left will not support a no-confidence motion under any circumstance. This weakens Yadav’s strategy.

What the Left will do is discuss with the Congress leadership, at Monday’s co-ordination committee meeting, its objections to the government’s foreign and economic policies.

Last Sunday, the Left had turned down an invitation from the Prime Minister for a co-ordination committee meeting following the government’s vote against Iran over its nuclear programme. Two days later, the Left relented after Congress president Sonia Gandhi called up CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechury and repeated the request.

Mulayam, however, wants a strategy that can politically hurt the Congress.

The Samajwadi Party’s relations with the Congress have been fraught with friction over the two parties’ political brinkmanship in Uttar Pradesh. The bitterness has deepened with Samajwadi general secretary Amar Singh’s recent accusation that the Congress had had his phones tapped.

Delhi’s vote against Iran had handed Mulayam a chance to try and get even with the Congress. The Uttar Pradesh chief minister also hoped to strengthen his grip on his Muslim vote bank by showing himself a friend of the Islamic nation.

But the Left Front is refusing to play ball. Karat said the Left and the Samajwadi Party would work closely on Iran and airport privatisation.

They would work out a joint strategy to put the government on the mat when the House debates Iran. They want the debate before March 6 when the International Atomic Energy Agency is scheduled to meet.

Mulayam needs the support of 50 MPs to bring a no-confidence motion. His party has 38 and the Telugu Desam has 5. With the Janata Dal (United) offering its 8 MPs, Mulayam just about has the numbers.

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