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India's Coalition Government Faces Confidence Vote


India's coalition government is facing a no-confidence motion in parliament. The motion does not pose a threat to the government, but is seen as an effort by opposition parties to consolidate support before a string of key elections in the country.

The main opposition Congress Party led the stormy attack against India's government, accusing it of being incompetent, irresponsible, and corrupt.

Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi said Monday the debate was not about winning numbers, but highlighting the government's failures.

She also reiterated charges that have rocked Parliament in recent days, that the government is attempting to cover up alleged corruption in defense purchases.

"I charge this government with jeopardizing the country's defenses," said Ms. Gandhi. "Second, I charge this government with weakening national security. I charge this government with willfully wrecking social harmony."

The Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which leads the governing coalition, says the no-confidence motion faces certain failure because the party has the support of more than 320 members in Parliament's 545-seat lower house.

Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani reflected his party's optimism as he defended the government in Parliament. "I welcome this motion, because it gives the government a unique opportunity to present to the Parliament and people what the government has really done in the last five years," he said.

Mr. Advani says India's stature in the world has risen during his government's five-year rule. He denies charges of corruption, and says the government has mounted an effective campaign against terrorism, and safeguarded national security.

Political analysts say the Congress Party pressed ahead with the no-confidence motion to rally smaller opposition parties behind it ahead of crucial elections. Four states hold elections later this year and there are general elections next year.

The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress Party are India's two main political organizations. But both have failed to win clear majorities in several recent elections, making it necessary for them to seek the support of smaller parties while forming state or federal governments.

The no-confidence motion is scheduled to come up for a vote Tuesday.

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