Mamata insists on trust vote, NDA stays non-committal

Hours after the Trinamool Congress asserted at a meeting of chief whips of all political parties that it would move a no-confidence motion in the Parliament session beginning Thursday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said the government was confident of defeating it.

The NDA, which met for 90 minutes on Tuesday evening, resolved to press for a House vote on FDI in multi-brand retail, but remained non-committal on seeking a trust vote.

"They (Trinamool leaders) did say that they would move a no-confidence motion. But no other party commented on support to them," Kamal Nath said on Tuesday, while briefing reporters on the business that the government intended to bring in the winter session.

Its desire to force a trust vote notwithstanding, the Trinamool would have to initiate discussions with like-minded parties to ensure that it has the support of at least 54 MPs — the minimum number required — to back the motion against the government.

Speaking in Kolkata on Tuesday, Mamata Banerjee offered to join hands with even the CPM to bring down the government in Delhi.

"This (corruption) is a national issue and I have no ego with anyone. If the CPM has any problems in backing our no-trust motion, they can table their own and we would not hesitate to support it. I can even go to (the Bengal CPM headquarters on) Alimuddin Street to discuss this issue with (Bengal CPM chief) Biman Bose. But the CPM has to promise that it would not strike a deal with the Congress," Mamata said at Writers' Buildings.

The CPM rejected the offer within an hour, saying the Left did not have the numbers to have its way in the House.

"Anybody is welcome here," Bose told a press conference at Alimuddin Street.

"But when you jump, you have to see whether the ground is soft or hard, or you might hurt yourself. Trinamool has only 19 members (in Lok Sabha)."

The NDA, after its meeting on Tuesday, kept its options open on supporting a no-confidence motion. But Sharad Yadav, leader of key constituent JD(U), appeared to strike a discordant note by insisting there must be consensus on a collective NDA stand.

A statement issued by the NDA leadership thereafter said a resolution would be moved under voting provisions against the government's decision on FDI in multi-brand retail, but underlined that it would consult other parties "to explore the possibility of a no-confidence motion against the government".

It also said that the government had failed on all fronts, and that it was time for it to go.

With the Trinamool having failed to extract a commitment in favour of its move for a no-trust vote from any party, government managers took potshots at it. "For the first time in my 32 years in Parliament, I am seeing a party with 19 members moving a no-confidence motion," Kamal Nath said.

"A former ally of 19 members threatening us does not mean it is a threat. We are confident of our numbers. We are not a government without numbers. As and when required, we will establish it on the floor of the house," he added. "She (Mamata) was on this side (government's) till the last session, now she is on that (opposition) side."

Speaking separately, Leader of the Lok Sabha Sushilkumar Shinde said, "We are not not afraid. We have the numbers."

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