UPA defeats Opposition`s cut motions

A divided Opposition, abstaining MPs and fresh support from BSP led to the failure of cut motions in LS.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: A divided Opposition, abstaining MPs and fresh support from BSP led to the failure of the cut motions against the UPA government in Lok Sabha on Tuesday. While BSP announced its support to the UPA earlier in the day, RJD and SP chiefs staged walk-out before the discussion began, further reducing the numbers that could have led to adoption of the cut motions and hence resulted in the UPA’s undoing at the Centre.

The opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Left parties moved cut motions in the Lok Sabha against the Budget proposals to hike prices of fuels and fertilisers but the treasury was confident of passing the test of strength rather easily.

The cut motion on Ministry of Petroleum moved by Sushma Swaraj was defeated after a voice vote. Those in favour of the motion numbered 162 while votes against the motion toalled 246.
Beginning the debate, the Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar informed about the letter sent to her by CPI’s Gurudas Dasgupta to move a cut motion on various budgetary demands. The cut motion of Dasgupta on
failure to formulate proper policies on petroleum products
was defeated
by 289 votes against and 201 in favour.

Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) hid his disappointment, saying the opposition had proved a point.

"The purpose of the cut motions was to bring the government under pressure for rollback in prices of petrol, diesel and urea," he said. "The aim was not to destabilize the government. In a way, we were successful both inside and outside (the house) to put pressure on the government."

The government breezed through the Opposition challenge
helped by a walk out by the Samajwadi Party and RJD together
accounting for 25, and 21 BSP members voting with treasury
benches in what was initially seen as a possible close trial
of strength for the UPA-II coalition.

Another surprise voter for the government was Jharkhand
Chief Minister Shibu Soren, who runs the state government on
BJP`s support.

"The government has proved that it has a comfortable majority (in the Lok Sabha). It is unfortunate that the Left voted with the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party)," Congress spokesman Rajiv Shukla said.

The cut motion received the support of mainly BJP and its
allies and Left Parties, while SP and RJD MPs walked out of
the House before the vote, notwithstanding their attack on
the government on the issue of price rise.

When budget proposals are presented in Parliament for approval, a lawmaker or a party can question specific allocations with a cut motion. If it is carried in the House, it amounts to a vote of no confidence and the government is obliged to quit.
But the treasury was confident of braving the dissent.

The ruling coalition`s comfort zone was particularly reinforced after BSP chief and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati categorically told reporters in Lucknow Tuesday that her party MPs will vote against the cut motions of opposition parties.

RJD leader Lalu Prasad, who was part of the opposition
MPs protesting against price rise, was ambiguous on his
party`s strategy on the cut motion.

On the floor of the Lok Sabha, he said he did not want to participate in a token exercise and went on to say his party will not vote with the BJP on the matter as the party had said IPL issue was not relevant anymore. This lead to an uproar from the BJP benches.

Leader of the House and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee
later said the demands for grants were passed as expected.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal wondered what
the NDA and the Left Parties have achieved when against their
total strength of 222, they got the support of only 201.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia
Gandhi was present during the 90-minute drama when almost the
entire UPA was in full strength in the House.

The demands for grants were taken up for voting after
Speaker Meira Kumar applied guillotine on the discussion
on demands for grants for over 60 ministries.

After rejecting the Opposition cut motions, the Lok Sabha
passed the demands for grants and the Appropriation Bill
authorising payment of Rs 46,61,038 crore from the
Consolidated Fund of India for 2010-11 without any discussion.

Only the demands for grants of three ministries were
discussed by the Lok Sabha in the last few days.
The voting on demands for grants today marks completion of
the second stage of the budgetary process. The debate on
Finance Bill will be taken up tomorrow and may be put to vote
on Thursday.

The Speaker broke new grounds when she allowed voting on
cut motions relating to ministries whose demands were not
taken up for discussion saying members` constitutional right
is superior to any rules and practices.

In the past Speakers had disallowed voting on cut motions
on demands for grants of ministries which were not taken up
for discussion.

PTI inputs