Friends, foes helped Cong stave off cut motions challenge

New Delhi: The Congress-led coalition managed to stave off the challenge posed by opposition in cut motions in the Lok Sabha yesterday thanks to the help from a number of friends as well as foes.

The JD(U), which is part of the BJP-led NDA, had not issued a whip to its 20 members. Neither did the 14 member BJD, which has Congress as its main rival in Orissa, where it is ruling, a senior minister said.

There were also some abstentions from the Shiv Sena which has 11 members and is the oldest ideological ally of the BJP.

Jaswant Singh, who was expelled by the BJP sometime back, surprised his former party by supporting the cut motions.

The move, however, proved costly for the BJP as JMM chief and Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren startled all by voting against the cut motions.

Union Minister B K Handique and Congress member from Uttar Pradesh Harshvardhan were brought from hospital to be present at the trial of strength.

From the UPA side, three MPs were absent including Abdul Mannan (Cong), Udayanraje Bhosale (NCP) and a Trinamool Congress member.

Dismissing Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj's statement that the government was in minority, Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal said "They (the BJP) should learn a lesson now and they should not try again".

Efforts to destabilise the government has failed, he said, adding, the approach of the opposition to press for division on cut motions was not proper.