Smooth sailing for Congress in Rajya Sabha?

Though the party does not have a majority in the Rajya Sabha, it is confident that the bill will be passed today

Ahead of the debate on the Lokpal bill in the Rajya Sabha today, the Congress expressed confidence of getting the landmark legislation approved in the upper house.

Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi yesterday said that though the party did not have a majority in the Rajya Sabha, it was confident that the bill would be passed.

"We are sure the bill will be passed. It is a bill in the interest of the country. We and our allies will make all efforts to get the bill passed. I have confidence we will be successful," Alvi said.

Congress sources said that party leaders were in touch with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, who support the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government from outside. The three parties together have 27 members in the Rajya Sabha.

They said if the three parties abstained from voting, the government would be in a position to get the bill passed.

The sources said that the SP and the BSP were unlikely to vote with the Congress due to the upcoming assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.

The sources said that party leaders were also in touch with its allies in the UPA, including the Trinamool Congress.

Besides its allies in the UPA, the Congress can also bank on support of nominated members and some of the independents and MPs from smaller parties who together constitute 19 members in the upper house.

The Congress has 71 members in the Rajya Sabha, which has a strength of 243. The government needs a majority to get the bill passed.

The Congress has not ruled out the possibility of convening a joint session of Parliament if the bill is not passed in the Rajya Sabha today.

The numbers at play
United Progressive Alliance:  95
National Democratic Alliance:  66
Left parties:   19
Bahujan Samaj Party:  18
AIADMK:    5
Samajwadi Party:   5
Rashtriya Janata Dal:  4

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