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With eyes on votes, Govt names airport after Charan Singh

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The government’s frantic attempts to garner support of political parties before a crucial no-confidence vote took an unusual turn when they gave in to the demands of an ally and named an airport after his father.

The government, scrambling to make up the numbers for Tuesday’s crucial vote, is now grappling with demands and conditions from parties it is courting as possible partners, political commentators said.

One such demand from Ajit Singh, an MP of the Rashtriya Lok Dal party, was to name the Lucknow airport iafter Singh’s father Chaudhury Charan Singh, the late former prime minister, according to local media.

On Thursday, P. Chidambaram, Finance Minister, announced the naming of the Lucknow airport after the former prime minister, after a cabinet meeting.

“It will facilitate better take offs and landings,” Chidambaram said, replying to a question on the reasons behind the move, as everyone burst into laughter.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was forced to call a confidence vote after his communist allies withdrew their support for the government to protest a civilian nuclear deal with the United States.

The vote will likely hang on a score of votes, mainly from smaller parties and independents, in the 543-member parliament. If the government loses the vote, early elections will be called, probably this year.

The Tuesday vote has spawned unheard-of political alliances, accusations of vote-buying to the tune of more than $6 million an MP and accusations of shady deal-making which has sullied even the relatively clean image of the prime minister.

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