Indian gov't survives confidence votes, clears way for US nuclear deal

By
July 22, 2008 19:08

India's government survived a hotly contested confidence vote Tuesday, clearing the way for it to finalize a landmark nuclear energy deal with the United States. The Congress party-led government won with 275 lawmakers voting for it and 256 against. The number of abstentions was not immediately clear, although not all 543 members of Parliament's lower house took part in the vote. The vote capped a week of intense politicking that saw the government rename an airport for a lawmaker's father, promise a high-level job to another, and - rival politicians allege - hand out millions of dollars to many others in an effort to survive. Most observers expected a tight vote, and both the Congress party and its opponents did whatever they could to muster their forces. One ailing lawmaker was wheeled in on a gurney, and a handful jailed for crimes ranging from murder to extortion were temporarily released from prison so they could vote. If the government had lost, it would been forced to call elections months before the end of its term in May - a scenario the Congress party was desperate to avoid with inflation running at nearly 12 percent and economic growth slowing.


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