SP, BSP, Trinamool bailout government on NCTC in Rajya Sabha

New Delhi : The government Tuesday defeated opposition-backed amendments on the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) in the Rajya Sabha, where it lacks majority, with help from the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and its often mercurial ally Trinamool Congress.

The SP and BSP, bitter rivals in Uttar Pradesh, supported the government after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured the house in his reply to the debate on the motion of thanks to the president’s address that efforts would be made to evolve a consensus on the anti-terror hub and chief ministers would be consulted. The six Trinamool MPs were not present in the house during the vote.

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.

The amendments to the president’s speech were pressed by the opposition, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), after the prime minister’s reply.

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 the result of division was announced, BJP, Left and Biju Janata Dal MPs walked out, protesting against the government not giving assurances on their demands concerning the NCTC.

Justifying the decision to vote with the government on the NCTC amendment, SP leader Mohan Singh said the party did not want to see rise of “communal forces”.

“The country is not in the condition to have general elections every year and we can’t allow the country to be taken over by communal forces,” Mohan Singh told reporters.

He said the SP had to “unwillingly” give injections to keep the government alive.

BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu termed the outcome of division as defeat of federalism.

“Federalism is being repeatedly attacked. We are totally disappointed.”

Earlier, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley (BJP) sought an assurance from prime minister that the entry of central forces working under NCTC would not happen “without the consent or knowledge of states”.

CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said the prime minister should promise that the government would proceed with NCTC only after taking chief ministers on board and “with their agreement”.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.K. Bansal said the prime minister had already stated that the chief ministers would be consulted and there would be no infringement of the federal structure.

AIADMK insisted on a division on its amendment to the issue of Sri Lankan Tamils. The amendments were negatived with the government getting 84 votes of the total 94 members present. Left and NDA members were not present in the house due to their earlier walk out.

While the Rajya Sabha Tuesday adopted the motion of thanks to the president’s address, the Lok Sabha had done the same Monday. Opposition amendments were defeated in the Lok Sabha also.

Meanwhile, a relieved Congress will seek an explanation from the seven members of the upper house who were absent during the crucial voting on the motion of thanks to the president’s address.

A similar explanation would be sought from around 15 Lok Sabha members who were absent during the same debate Monday, said the sources.

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