Indian coalition partner says it will not bring down govt

A junior partner in India's strained coalition pledged Friday not to topple the government and force early elections after the premier said the administration could be hit by a new pullout.

"There is no question that we will withdraw support. I don't know on what basis the prime minister said we will pull out," Mulayam Singh, chief of the socialist and secular Samajwadi Party (SP), told the CNN-IBN news channel.

Twenty-one MPs from the party, which governs the populous northern state of Uttar Pradesh, have pledged their support to the federal government led by the Congress party.

On Thursday, Manmohan Singh said he could not rule out the chance of the SP quitting the coalition, in what would be the third such exit of a party in barely six months.

"Obviously, coalitions face issues. Sometimes, they give the impression these arrangements are not very stable and I cannot deny those possibilities exist," he said in televised remarks given from a plane on his return from a summit in South Africa.

"But I am confident our government will complete five years and that the next Lok Sabha (parliamentary) elections will take place on schedule," he added.

The SP has been dropping strong hints in recent days that it might split from Singh's government, which has already lost its parliamentary majority.

The party has been particularly unhappy over a string of recent economic reforms to further liberalise the economy -- criticism which has become more strident in the countdown to elections due early next year.

Even if the SP were to leave the coalition, the prime minister said he believed he would be able to steer some reforms through parliament, where he can also rely on the support of several parties that are not in government.

Singh said his government had "to take into account the fact that we don't have the majority to get parliament to approve some of our reforms".

"But even then, we are confident the reforms that matter, and which are going to yield results in the next few months, we will be able to push them through the parliament," he added, without elaborating.

Singh's government has become increasingly vulnerable to a vote of no confidence after Congress's two biggest coalition partners pulled out.

The Tamil Nadu-based Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party quit last week after accusing the government of failing to condemn alleged atrocities against Tamils in Sri Lanka.

The Kolkata-based Trinamool party walked out of the government in late September over the economic reforms.