New Delhi: The UPA government on Friday breathed easy with the Samajwadi Party bailing it out pledging its continued support as Trinamool Congress formally split with the coalition withdrawing its backing after its ministers quit.

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Significantly, the TMC, which withdrew the support of 19 of its MPs to the government, did not press for a vote of confidence by the government in the Lok Sabha when they met President Pranab Mukherjee.

Breaking the suspense, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had on Thursday joined hands with the Left and other parties on the streets of Delhi against the government's decision to allow FDI in retail and the diesel price hike, came out with a statement  totally backing to the UPA.

"Our support is clear.  We will not let communal forces come to power.  That is why I am supporting.  I am not in UPA.  But we are supporting so that communal forces do not make any progress," he told reporters in Delhi.

The pledge of continued support by Mulayam Singh Yadav, leader of the 22 MP-strong SP, "to keep the communal forces at bay" will ensure the backing of over 300 MPs to the Manmohan Singh government in the 545-member Lok Sabha.

The withdrawal of support by TMC left brought the strength of UPA and its allies to 254, 19 short of the half-way mark of 273 in the Lok Sabha that is required for a simple majority.

However, the backing of 50 MPs belonging to outside allies like SP (22) and BSP (21) takes the coalition's support to over 300.

SIX TMC MINISTERS QUIT

Six Trinamool Ministers including Mukul Roy, who held the Railway portfolio in the Cabinet, and five others Ministers of State--Saugata Roy, Sultan Ahmed, Sudip Bandhopadhyaya, Sisir Adhikari and Mohan Jatua--met Prime Minister and handed over their resignations.

Bandhopadhyay later said the Prime Minister told them he was sad at their resignation.

Later, they drove to Rashtrapati Bhawan where Mukul Roy handed over a letter as Chairman of the Trinamool Congress' Parliamentary Party "withdrawing our support" to the government.

Asked whether the Trinamool delegation sought a vote of confidence by the government when they met the President, Saugata Roy said, "we had not not said anything extra.  We tendered our resignation and we had given our (letter of) withdrawal of support. Beyond that we did not not say anything."

However, Mukul Roy said since the majority of parties were opposing the FDI in retail the government should seek a vote in Parliament on the issue.

The Samajwadi Party's rescue act on Friday brings to mind its earlier act of comming to the aid of UPA I in 2008 after the Left parties withdrew support on the issue of nuclear deal with the US.  SP MPs voted with the government that was one of the major factors in the UPA coalition passing the muster in a controversial trial of strength then.

MAMATA SLAMS FDI NOTIFICATION

In Kolkata, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said notifying implementation of the decision on FDI in  multi-brand retail by a "minority government" was unethical and undemocratic. "We are in the fight to protect the interests of the people. We will win," Banerjee said.

On its part, the government ruled out seeking a confidence vote in the Lok Sabha.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister PK Bansal said there was no doubt about the government's majority and so there was no need to take a floor test.

Replying to questions including on whether SP will be withdrawing support to UPA, Yadav said, "why will we take the support back? We have to keep communal forces away from power. But we are not in UPA."

Asked if he was in favour of mid-term elections, Yadav shot back, "where is the question of mid-term polls?

Ask Congress about this, what they want and whether they want it or (they want to) run the government."

When suggested that it is said he will be responsible if mid-term poll takes place, Yadav said, "it does not depend on us. This is government's responsibility."

Questioned whether the government is in minority, he said it will be clear in the Lok Sabha.

Asked about government issuing notification of FDI soon after the protests, he said his job is to inform people and his party was not with UPA on this.

"We will keep opposing FDI and diesel price hike. We will oppose this in Lok Sabha also as it will hurt five crore people in the country," he said.

Yadav said it was a "meaningless talk" when asked whether his party will join the government.

(Agencies)

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