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Cong, AGP negotiated on N-Bill in �08

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, April 23 � The Congress Party and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) may be arch-rivals, but ahead of the crucial voting on the Nuclear Bill in 2008, the two parties had a negotiation on the issue.

If the latest WikiLeaks is to be believed, the Congress Party had opened negotiation trying to secure their support ahead of the debate. The two MPs � Dr Arun Kumar Sarma and Sarbananda Sonowal �though had voted against the Bill in the Parliament.

�The other �small parties� in discussion with the Congress Party, as the cable mentioned, were the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam with four seats, and the Asom Gana Parishad with two seats,� a leading English national daily has reported.

The cable also noted that another Independent MP, who was an UPA ally, also extended support. As it is known, SK Bwiswmutiary of BPF has extended support to the Bill.

�The cable noted that through its contacts, the US Embassy had come to know that apart from the Samajwadi Party, �the UPA has secured eight more votes: one each from the National Loktantrik Party (NLP), the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF), an Independent UPA supporter from Kerala, an Independent UPA supporter from Assam, and four votes from other previously undeclared Independents,� the report said.

When contacted, Sarbananda Sonowal confirmed that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had got in touch with them seeking their support. �Dr Manmohan Singh had called us both individually over telephone and sought our support. But we told him that we have to go by the party line and oppose the Bill,� Sonowal, who has since joined BJP, said.

Curiously enough, the cable was silent about the role of the MP of Nagaland People�s Front (NPF). He supported the Bill defying party whip. The lone Lok Sabha Member from Nagaland W Wangyuh Konyak was later expelled from the Nagaland People's Front for six years for defying the party's directive.

Back to those heady heads, hectic parleys were on among all major political parties and smaller regional parties. The entire top leadership of AGP flew to Delhi ahead of the voting. AGP was then a part of the non-Congress, non BJP alliance that included TDP and Samajvadi Party and its all-powerful general secretary, Amar Singh was in the thick of negotiation trying to secure support for the Bill.

The steering committee of the AGP, in fact had passed a resolution ahead of the voting opposing the Bill and in a way that tied its hands.

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