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SINGH IS KING: UPA WINS TRUST VOTE

TimePublished on Tue, Jul 22, 2008 at 19:29, Updated at Wed, Jul 23, 2008 in Nation section

KING CONG HERE TO STAY: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Government won the trust vote in Lok Sabha.

KING CONG HERE TO STAY: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Government won the trust vote in Lok Sabha.


    

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The kingmakers

Samajwadi Party General Secretary Amar Singh, widely seen as the architect of the UPA victory, said the credit for the UPA's success should clearly go to Manmohan Singh.

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and National Conference president Omar Abdullah were the most effective speakers on Tuesday. The former used his known wit with deadly effect particularly against the Left while the latter was at his forceful best. Another impressive speaker was Rahul Gandhi, who tried to connect his interactions with the poor in rural areas to India's need for energy security and the larger nuclear deal.

But all of them suddenly got overshadowed by three BJP MPs – Ashok Argal (Morena), Faggan Singh Kulaste (Mandla) and Mahavir Bhagora (Salumber) who suddenly walked towards the Speaker's chair and placed two brown and black leather bags on a table and pulled out thick bundles of 1,000 rupee denomination.

As millions of Indians following the television proceedings across the country watched in horror, the MPs began to flash the tight bundles of money, triggering pandemonium in the House and leading to its adjournment.

The BJP MPs, in particular Kulaste, alleged that Amar Singh and Congress leader Ahmed Patel, an aide to Sonia Gandhi, were the masterminds behind the attempt to win them over so that they stay away from Tuesday evening's confidence motion. Amar Singh and Patel angrily denied the charge.

The opposition and the UPA got into an ugly public spat, blaming one another for the sordid scenes that leaders from both sides alleged had dealt a huge blow to India's democratic credentials.

Kulaste told reporters that he and a colleague were invited to Amar Singh's house the previous night and promised Rs 9 crore each to abstain from Parliament so as to twist the numbers in the House in its favour. He said the three of them were paid Rs 1 crore as advance and were promised that the rest of the amount would follow.

The dramatic happening prompted BJP leader LK Advani and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati to demand the resignation of Manmohan Singh. He did not oblige, and in fact took an aggressive line in his final address.

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