Govt breathes easy in Lok Sabha; TC, BSP members walk out

Government today breathed easy in the Lok Sabha when Opposition amendments to the President's address were defeated with help from Trinamool Congress, SP and BSP even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh lamented that decisions were getting "more difficult" because of coalition compulsions.

The much-hyped Opposition to the Centre's anti-terror body NCTC, over which TC, SP and BSP had moved amendments along with Opposition parties, proved to be nothing at the time of voting when members of the Trinamool and BSP walked out while SP voted with the Government on the motion.

In fact, SP, which fought a bitter battle against the Congress in Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections recently, withdrew its amendments after expressing satisfaction over Singh's assurance that the NCTC will not be operationalised before the concerns of the states are addressed.

While the BJP amendment was negatived by 226-141, a CPI(M) amendment was defeated by 227-146. But for the walkout by TC and BSP, which have a combined strength of 40 members, and the support of 22-member SP, the government could have been in real trouble. TC has 19 MPs, while BSP 21.

The government of the day has to go if an amendment to the President's address is passed in the House.

In his reply to debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President's Address, Singh said difficult decisions were getting "more difficult" because of coalition compulsions and urged parties for eschewing narrow partisan approaches in the interest of the country.

He made a strong pitch for the NCTC (National Centre for Counter Terrorism), saying it was an important step to fight terrorism but made it clear that no further action would be taken on it without full consultations with states.

Devoting substantial part of his reply to the NCTC, Singh said it was imperative for the country to defeat terrorism and left-wing extremism if it were to achieve its growth objectives.

"NCTC is an important step to give security to all the citizens of the country," he said.
Singh also talked about the difficult situation in the economic field and expressed commitment to reforms to push growth.

"I am sure members realise that difficult decisions we have to take are made more difficult by the fact that we are a coalition government... We need to have consensus," he said.

In this regard, he cited as an example the Railway Budget which faced strong opposition from ally Trinamool Congress and Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi was forced to quit.
"This is an occasion to eschew narrow partisan approach," Singh said.

Singh also responded to the demands from parties in Tamil Nadu for supporting UN resolution against Sri Lanka by saying that India was "inclined" to do so if it meets its "objectives" with regard to the future for ethnic Tamils "based on equality, dignity, justice and self respect".

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