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On July 18, 2018, Kesineni Srinivas, an MP from the BJP’s former ally Telugu Desam Party moved a no-confidence motion against the Modi government. Sumitra Mahajan (speaker of the Lok Sabha), accepted the motion and 20th July 2018 was declared as the date for debating and voting.

Witnessing a lot of no-confidence motions against the previous governments, it becomes imperative to briefly explain what the motion is. Rule 198 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of the Lok Sabha describes no-confidence motion is “a motion expressing want of confidence in the Council of Ministers.” The principle intends to ensure that a replacement head of government has enough parliamentary support to govern in case a government falls. The motion is moved after the person requesting leave files a written statement. Now, after the speaker is satisfied with the motion in order, he/she asks the House. The motion is moved with a minimum 50 members’ approval.

The first-ever no-confidence was moved against the Nehru government post the disastrous India-China war. The government was condemned for its poor execution of plans. However, the motion did not pass the House. No-confidence motions in the Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi years were also unsuccessful. The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, in 1999 lost power, when they lost a no-confidence motion, after their ally AIADMK pulled out of the coalition. After this, almost every no-confidence motion has been defeated by the government. Returning to the first No confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government, the motion is said to be null and void from the word go because it lacked the very condition of opposition parties having the required numbers in the majority to form a replacement government. Thus, it is no surprise that the NDA government won the no-confidence vote with a thumping majority. While 325 MPs voted, only 126 were in favor of the motion.

Charges flew thick and fast and a war of words erupted in the Lower House during 12 hour-long debate. Rahul Gandhi, as leader of the opposition, accused the NDA government of failing at promotion of women empowerment. The Congress president then went on to claim that his party had decided to roll out GST during its tenure with the introduction of only one tax. It must be reiterated here that one tax rate is not feasible as luxuries must attract higher rates than necessities. He further alleged that the government supported crony capitalism completely ignorant of the scams registered against Lalit Modi and Vijay Mallya during Congress party’s rule. Next, it tugged on the farmer’s distress thread and complained that the government is anti-farmer. The Congress President must be reminded that waiving off farmer loans is never going to be the long-term solution. If this had not been enough, the Congress leader put on a façade by hugging the Prime Minister and then winking in the Lok Sabha. This act which seemed as if pulled from a daily soap attracted a lot of attention and made to the headlines captioned as ‘hugplomacy’.

While Rahul Gandhi may be mocked at for his ‘hugplomacy’, he effectively raised the question of how the Rafale deal was jettisoned from an experienced HAL at the eleventh hour and given to a private company, Reliance, which has never had an experience of building fighter jets. More so, there is no historical precedent to keep the price of the defense deal a secret.  The matter is being investigated by the CAG.

Clearly, a majority of these were all mere attacks on the ruling party without any constructive suggestions. The true role of the opposition lies in questioning the current government and holding it accountable to the public. It represents an alternative government and is responsible for challenging its policies and suggesting different policies appropriately. However, such is the cynicism in politics that any positive move aiding the country in a step forward as an economic power is met with derision instead of appreciation.

In response to Rahul Gandhi’s accusation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh shot back with replies quoting overall growth in the sectors, farmer-friendly schemes, and timely withdrawal of the BJP from its alliance with the PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, GDP growth, and acceptance of the BJP by Muslims and Christians. Modi declaimed his views on how the Doklam issue was at the verge of getting misconstrued when Congress tried to score its political point by meeting the Chinese Ambassador. Well, playing divisive politics instead of standing together at such crucial moments does scream about the immaturity of our political representatives.   

The Prime Minister laid this debate as the floor for 2019 election campaign while repeatedly calling the ‘Floor Test as the Forced Test’. Well, for a fact, the vote was called in response to the BJP’s growing alienation from the regional political parties (both allies and opposition). Its largest ally, Telugu Desam Party, walked out of the alliance citing wholesale ‘betrayal of the new state of Andhra’, while it’s second largest ally chose to abstain from voting.  

Sardar Patel once said that if you ignore reality, facts have their own way of taking revenge. If the NDA government continues to be delusional that all is well with the economy and one crore jobs have been created in 2017-18, then it only adds to the impediments in progress for the country. This makes 2019 elections even more intriguing. In 2019, Indians will choose between the Congress which has a record of fleecing the public and Modi’s rhapsody. Who knows, there might be a coup from within the regional parties. Between inexperienced captains and unskilled crews, safe steerage of India’s ship to the desired destination requires no less than a miracle.

 

 

References:

Monica, A. (2018, July 25). How congress is a victim of Rahul Gandhi’s immaturity. DailyO.Retrieved from https://www.dailyo.in/politics/rahul-gandhi-no-confidence-motion-parliament-speech-congress-bjp-narendra-modi-gst/story/1/25689.html

M.K. Venu. (2018, July 21).  Narendra Modi's Speech in Parliament Made His 2019 Campaign Priorities Clear. The Wire. Retrieved from https://thewire.in/politics/narendra-modi-bjp-no-confidence-motion-speech 

No-confidence motion against Modi govt highlights (2018, July 21). The Indian Express.Retrieved from https://indianexpress.com/article/india/parliament-live-updates-no-confidence-motion-no-trust-vote-5266948/

Parliament live streaming: No-confidence motion against Modi govt (2018, July 20). Livemint. Retrieved from https://www.livemint.com/Home-Page/MtvmdVYDFgowqrKYorY44J/Live-Streaming-of-noconfidence-motion-against-Modi-govt.html

Sanjeev, U. (2018, July 23). Why the no confidence motion was null and void even before it was introduced. DailyO. Retrieved from https://www.dailyo.in/variety/no-confidence-motion-rahul-gandhi-narendra-modi-opposition-unity/story/1/25634.html

TDP's no-confidence motion defeated (2018, July 21). The Times of India. Retrieved from https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/congress-should-not-indulge-in-childish-act-on-issues-of-national-security-pm-on-rahuls-rafale-allegations/articleshow/65075037.cms

Image Credit: DNA 

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Written By Satchi Kalra

Economics graduate- Delhi University

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