Opposition parties form alliance after nuclear vote,
saying Indian government tainted

NEW DELHI (AP) - Several key Indian political parties formed an anti-government alliance Wednesday, a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh won a confidence vote that paves the way for a landmark nuclear deal with the United States.

The new opposition coalition - which brings together the government’s former communist allies, a rising regional party and several smaller groups - said even though the government won the confidence vote, it had been irreparably tainted by accusations of corruption and vote-buying.

The government won the Tuesday vote by members of Parliament by 275 to 256, a wider margin than many observers had predicted. Ten lawmakers abstained.

But while Singh made enemies in his bid to push ahead with the nuclear deal, he had the backing of the markets, which surged Wednesday on the news that the fall of the government had been averted.

The benchmark Sensex index in Bombay rose 4.35 percent to 14,717.77 at midday.

Singh and his Congress party had fought hard to secure their victory, and have been accused of cutting back-room deals when all else failed. An airport was named after one lawmaker’s father, another was promised a high-level job and - rival politicians allege - many others received millions of dollars in bribes.

At one point, legislators from the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party pulled large bundles of cash out of bags they said contained tens of millions of rupees (hundreds of thousands of dollars) alleging Congress and its allies had tried to bribe them to abstain.

Authorities have promised an investigation into the charges.

Speaking at a meeting of the new alliance Wednesday, Prakash Karat, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief, said the government had lost it’s moral authority.

Mayawati, India’s most powerful low-caste politician who goes by just one name, accused the government of "murdering democracy."

The party leaders did not immediately outline the steps they planned to take to oppose the government.

Singh was forced to call the confidence vote after the communist political parties withdrew their support this month to protest the nuclear deal, fearing it would draw India closer to the United States.

The pact would end more than three decades of nuclear isolation for India, opening its civilian reactors to international inspections in exchange for the nuclear fuel and technology it has been denied by its refusal to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and its testing of atomic weapons.

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