Pulling up its stakes, the opposition Congress in Punjab will move a no-confidence motion against the Parkash Singh Badal government on Tuesday.
It would be a first no-confidence motion against any government in Punjab in the last many years.
The party's strategy is to corner not just the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal but also embarrass coalition partner BJP after state president Kamal Sharma on Sunday demanded the resignation of Punjab revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia after his summoning by the Enforcement Directorate in the multi-crore Bhola drug racket.
The deftly-planned move will also put the recent activism of the saffron party on the drugs issue to test, including the Mann ki Baat of PM Narendra Modi. The Congress, which is aiming at driving a bigger wedge between the allies, would need the support of all 12 MLAs of the BJP to pass the motion, if it comes to vote.
"Just seeking the minister's resignation is not enough. This government has lost the legitimacy to continue in power. That Majithia will resign is a done deal. The bigger question is will the BJP walk the talk? They cant's say something outside the assembly and defend the government on the issue inside it. They cannot shrug collective responsibility and continue to enjoy the perks of power," Leader of opposition in Punjab assembly Sunil Jakhar Jakhar said while addressing mediapersons after the meeting of Congress Legislative Party on Monday.
He later met speaker Charanjit Atwal after the meeting of the and conveyed the decision to him. The application for moving the no-confidence motion submitted to assembly secretary read: "The growing drug abuse in Punjab is threatening the very future of youth of the state. The council of ministers has not only failed to check the menace of drug trafficking but senior ministers and MLAs of the ruling party are also being investigated for their alleged roles in the drug trade. Hence the house has lost its confidence in the present council of ministers headed by Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal." Cong issues whip to MLAs to remain present
Jakhar also issued a whip to its MLAs to remain present in the house on Tuesday for the no-confidence motion which will be moved after the question hour.
Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal was quick to accept the challenge. In a statement, he said the SAD-BJP government fully and gladly accepts the challenge of the opposition to move a no-confidence motion against the government in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. "We have great regard for the highest democratic values and traditions of parliamentary democracy and fully respect the rights and the role of the opposition in a democratic set-up," he said.
The CM's confidence comes from the assurance of BJP, which refused to "play into the hands" of the Congress. Kamal Sharma in his statement said, "The BJP would firmly stand by the SAD, which is an important partner of the NDA government at the centre, and there was no question of supporting the motion. The only aim of Congress is to gain some political brownie points."
What is no-confidence motion
According to rules, the speaker can allow a no-confidence motion to be moved if it is supported by 1/5th of the total number of members present in the house. He can then fix a time for the discussion on the motion after which it is put to vote. The division of votes decides whether the government enjoys the confidence of majority of members.
With 44 MLAs and Independent MLA Rajnish Babbi, the Congress has the According to sources, Bains brothers -- Simarjit Singh and Balwinder Singh -- the two independent MLAs from Ludhiana who have fallen out with the SAD too have assured the Congress of their support. However, to topple the government, the Congress would need the support of all 12 MLAs of the BJP. With 58 MLAs, the SAD is just one short of the majority figure of 59.