NCTC bill sails through RS

The NCTC bill’s successful passage in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday has shown that the UPA signalled the emergence of new alliances with the important regional parties SP and BSP, both from politically important state Uttar Pradesh.

The government heaved a sigh of relief after defeating Opposition-backed amendments on the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) in the Rajya Sabha, with the help of its partner Trinamool and of the SP and BSP, which were its opponents of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh.

Admitting that the BSP and SP had been supporting the government on constructive issues, the Congress tried to downplay its partner Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress’ abstention from voting on the controversial issue in the Upper House, where the ruling party is in a minority.

Despite the promise by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the House in his reply to the debate on the motion of thanks to the President’s address that efforts would made to evolve a consensus on the NCTC, the Opposition parties, the BJP and the Left, insisted on voting and division about the amendments moved by them.

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has a strength of 97 in the Upper House, which has an effective strength of 238 at present. The BSP with 17 members and SP with four members extend outside support to the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by the Congress.

At the end of the division, Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan announced that 82 members had voted in favour of the amendments on the proposed anti-terror intelligence hub and 105 against them.

After their defeat in the voting, BJP, Left and Biju Janata Dal MPs walked out, protesting against the government not giving assurances on their demands concerning the NCTC.

Interestingly when the same issue came up in the Lok Sabha on Monday, UPA partner Trinamool Congress abstained from voting while the Opposition BSP staged a walkout. However, the SP, as it did in the Lok Sabha, voted with the government in the Upper House too. Its leader Mohan Singh said the party did not want to see the rise of ‘communal forces.’

On the other hand, BSP general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra said his party voted in favour of the government to ensure not to ‘destabilise’ the UPA.

Referring to the walkout staged by BSP members in the Lok Sabha on Monday, he said after the party MPs read the prime minister's statement in the evening, and after he again gave assurance in the House, they voted in support of the government on Tuesday in the Upper House.

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