New Delhi, Dec 6 (IANS) The Congress was Thursday "relieved" after BSP supremo Mayawati announced that her 15 MPs would support the government in the motion on FDI in multi-brand retail but kept its fingers crossed and continued efforts to muster support ahead of the crucial vote Friday.
The UPA government lacks majority in the upper house, with its numbers much below the halfway mark of 123 in the 244-member house. But if the Samajwadi Party's (SP) nine members walk out or abstain from voting, the effective strength of members present and voting would come down to 235, pulling down the halfway mark to 118.
"We are relieved (after Mayawati's announcement) but we will keep trying to garner support till the vote is over," said a senior Congress leader, who did not wish to be named.
The UPA strength is 89 and would climb to 104 with the addition of Bahujan Samaj Party's (BSP) 15 members. If the strength of parties supporting the government from outside like Rashtriya Janata Dal (2), Lok Janashakti Party, Nagaland People's Front, Bodoland People's Front and Sikkim Democratic Front (one each) is added, the UPA tally goes up to 110.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its main allies Janata Dal-United, Shiv Sena, and Shiromani Akali Dal together have 65 votes. If the 14 members of the Left parties and nine of Trinamool Congress are added, the count of votes against foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail will be 88.
Parties like Biju Janata Dal (7), Asom Gana Parishad (2), AIADMK (5), and Telugu Desam Party (5) will further take the opposition tally up to 107 -- just three short of the government tally of 110.
Congress managers claimed most of the seven Independent MPs will support the government. Even if four of them vote in support, the UPA tally will be 114, they said.
Out of the 10 nominated members, three including cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, actress Rekha and Congress leader Murli Deora may not be present due to personal reasons, said the sources.
If the remaining seven nominated MPs go with the government, the UPA tally will be 121, just 2 short of the half-way mark of the total house strength, sources said.
However, they said the picture would become clear only on the floor of the house, adding that winning the vote is going to be a close fight
Congress managers said they were in touch with both the BSP and the SP, whose 43 members together helped the government Wednesday defeat the vote on the motion against FDI in the Lok Sabha.
A section of the Congress leaders said the SP could walk out or abstain from the vote, as it did in the lower house.
"We don't know how the SP will behave during the vote," said the Congress leader adding" "We have to keep trying to get the numbers on our side till the voting is over."
The SP has kept the government guessing so far.
SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav had said if there is a vote on FDI in Rajya Sabha, his party will vote against it. But party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav toned down his remarks hours later and said a decision will be taken at the right opportunity.
The motion is being debated under rules 167-168, which entail voting.