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Nothing new in this trust motion

Irrespective of the way the debate pans out, what is important is that debate is happening in Parliament rather than disruption and that the country will listen to key actors on major governance and political issues.

editorials Updated: Jul 19, 2018 19:06 IST
Hindustan Times
Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces his first floor challenge, in the form of a no-confidence motion, on Friday(PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces his first floor challenge, in the form of a no-confidence motion, on Friday. The last time the Lok Sabha witnessed a no-confidence vote was in 2003, when Sonia Gandhi challenged Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The motion got defeated, but the BJP lost the following year in the general elections. In 2008, Manmohan Singh sought a vote of confidence on his own, keen to prove his majority and get a legislative mandate to go ahead with the nuclear deal with US. He won. The United Progressive Alliance also returned to power the following year.

The fact that this vote is happening in the final year of the NDA government is a sign that political competition heats up right before elections. But it is also important to note that the circumstances this time are different. The Modi government is firmly in the saddle, with no doubts about its numerical majority, because the Bharatiya Janata Party on its own has a majority. The issue which has triggered the motion is region specific — the Telugu Desam Party’s demand for special category status to Andhra Pradesh — but has assumed a national character.

But if the outcome is quite predictable, what are the motivations, and what will be the objectives, of both sides? For the Opposition, this is an opportunity to corner the government on what it believes are its two key vulnerabilities: the economy, defined as farmer distress and unemployment; and security, defined in terms of lynching and alleged rise in Dalit atrocities.

For the government, this is an opportunity to defend what it believes is its reasonably good governance record, particularly on welfare delivery. The BJP’s strategists also believe that with a speaker like Mr Modi on their side, they will be able to turn the tables on the Opposition. But irrespective of the way the debate pans out, what is important is that debate is happening in Parliament rather than disruption and that the country will listen to key actors on major governance and political issues. It is this spirit of democratic deliberation which should guide the parties in the run up to elections.

First Published: Jul 19, 2018 19:05 IST