INDIA: Lok Sabha Speaker admits no-trust motion, BJP eyeing debate as chance to turn tables on Congress

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JULY 26, 2023

NEW DELHI: Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Wednesday accepted a no-confidence motion moved by 26 opposition parties against the BJP government, setting the stage for a contest which the governing party is set to win comfortably but which will be leveraged by its opponents for sharpening their anti-Modi plank.

Birla said the date for discussion on the no-confidence motion, the first to be faced by the Modi government in its second term, will be decided after consulting all parties.

The motion was moved by Congress’s Gaurav Gogoi, a member from Assam, and was accepted by the Speaker as soon as 50 members, the minimum required under the rules, stood up in support.

There are indications that the debate and the vote will be scheduled after passage of important pieces of legislation, including one that seeks to replace the ordinance promulgated last month to wrest control of the bureaucracy in Delhi from the state government. The contested legislation is likely to be tabled on Monday. The Congress and its allies have maintained that while they, with numbers stacked in favour of the government, know its outcome, they decided to force the contest in order to “force” the PM to speak.

BJP eyeing no-trust debate as chance to turn tables on Congress

After the no-trust motion was accepted on Wednesday, there were enough indications that BJP was looking forward to the debate as an opportunity to turn the tables on Congress and others on a range of issues and to sharpen its own themes of “Modi versus the Rest” and “dynasts and nepotists ganging up on the common man’s PM”. Modi himself indicated the combative intent by delivering a speech at the inauguration of the new ITPO complex that appeared to be a prequel to the planned attempt to take the battle to the rival camp.

Significantly, there was no let-up in disruptions by the opposition which had justified its tactics as protests against the PM for not agreeing to speak on the Manipur situation in the House even after the Speaker had admitted the no-confidence motion, setting off a chain of events that will be highlighted by Modi’s reply.

This is the second time that the Modi government is facing a no-confidence motion since 2014. The first one was moved in Lok Sabha on July 20, 2018. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) scored a thumping win with 325 MPs voting against the motion and only 126 supporting it.

The Lok Sabha currently has a strength of 543 seats of which five are vacant. The BJP-led NDA has over 330 members, the opposition alliance has over 140 and nearly 60 members belong to parties not aligned to either of the two groups. The opposition’s move, however, suffered another setback with key parties, although non-aligned, including Bahujan Samaj Party and YSR Congress, deciding not to support the no-confidence motion.

The YSRCP has 22 MPs in Lok Sabha and BSP has 10. The BJD is yet to make its stand clear but the last time, the party had walked out and not supported the no-confidence motion.

The K Chandrashekar Rao-led Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), which has nine MPs and is not a part of the ‘INDIA’ bloc, had also submitted a notice for a no-confidence motion against the government through its MP Nama Nageshwar Rao.

Asked about the opposition move, parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi said people had confidence in PM Modi and in BJP. “They had done that in the last term also and people had taught them a lesson and will do so again,” he said.

Congress pressed for early scheduling of the debate, with spokesman Manish Tewari saying it should be taken up on Thursday itself.

He said although Rule 198A of the procedures code of Lok Sabha says that the speaker can allow discussion on a no-confidence motion within 10 days, the tradition is that once a motion is accepted, all other business is suspended and discussion is initiated immediately. “Considering the convention of the House, the speaker should suspend all other business and allow a discussion on the motion on Thursday itself,” Tewari said.

“We want the prime minister to give a detailed response to the no-confidence motion,” he added.

Congress MP Manickam Tagore said the ‘INDIA’ bloc was together and this was the idea of the alliance. “We feel that it is our duty to use this last weapon to break the arrogance of the government and make the PM speak on Manipur,” he said.

Earlier, when Gogoi, deputy leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, sought the permission of the House for the motion, Birla asked members in favour of granting permission to admit the motion to stand up for a headcount.

MPs belonging to the opposition bloc, including Congress parliamentary party chief Sonia Gandhi, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, DMK’s T R Baalu and NCP leader Supriya Sule stood up for the headcount. Birla then admitted the motion of no-confidence.


Courtesy/Source: TOI / PTI