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Modi govt confident of sailing through no-confidence motion, seeks to make a statement

BJP president Amit Shah met BJP floor leaders in the Lok Sabha and asked them to ensure maximum attendance on Friday for the no-confidence motion. He also spoke to Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and expects the ally to vote with the NDA.

india Updated: Jul 20, 2018 10:34 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
no confidence motion,no confidence motion against pm,constructive vote of no confidence
Narendra Modi stands with senior BJP leaders as he addresses media after arriving for the monsoon session of Parliament in New Delhi on Wednesday.(AFP Photo)

Calls to allies and friendly (or non-aligned) parties. An effort to ensure the attendance of all its members, even those unwell or in hospital. On Thursday, ahead of Friday’s no confidence motion, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government went all out. Not to defeat the motion — that’s a given -- but to defeat it with a two-thirds vote against it in a sort of “There, take that” gesture to the opposition, especially the Congress.

The intent is to demonstrate that the coalition enjoys support cutting across political boundaries, two senior leaders of the BJP said. The party has reached out to several non-aligned parties for their support, they added, asking not to be identified.

The current Lok Sabha has 533 members, excluding the speaker, and 355 is the two-thirds mark. This number will come down further if some parties do not vote at all, lowering the strength of the House when the voting takes place. The BJP has 273 members and the NDA 312. There is no doubt of it defeating the no-confidence motion sponsored by the Telugu Desam Party; it needs just 267 votes for that. The ruling dispensation will need the support of 43 more MPs – if each of the members is present and votes-- to touch the two-thirds target it has set for itself. “We are hopeful that two-thirds of members present will vote against the motion,” the first BJP leader said.

Watch video | No-confidence motion: How the numbers stack up for BJP, Opposition 

It will be the first vote on a no-confidence motion on the floor of Parliament since 2003, when the then-NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee sailed through a no-confidence motion brought by the Congress party.

“We will not disclose the numbers, but you will see NDA-plus in the Lok Sabha tomorrow,” parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar said, without elaborating on the other parties whose support the NDA is counting on.

BJP president Amit Shah met BJP floor leaders in the Lok Sabha and asked them to ensure maximum attendance on Friday. He also spoke to Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and expects the ally to vote with the NDA.

A couple of senior BJP MPs were hosting their parliamentarian colleagues over dinner on Thursday night. “This is to ensure that every MP is in town by night,” the second BJP?leader said. Valsad (Gujarat) MP KC Patel, who is ailing and is in a hospital in Delhi, will be brought to the Lok Sabha under medical supervision, a third BJP leader said on condition of anonymity.

Rampur MP Nepal Singh, too, is not well and the party is making arrangements to ensure his attendance. Suspended MP Kirti Azad too has been told about the party whip to MPs to remain present in the House and vote against the motion.

BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha, who has been critical of the government, has said he will oppose the motion and back his party.

Tamil Nadu CM K Palaniswami announced in Chennai that the state’s ruling AIADMK will not support the no-confidence motion. He did not make it clear if the AIADMK will abstain, walk out, or oppose the motion.

The Telangana Rashtra Samiti too announced that it did not support the motion spearheaded by the TDP, the ruling party of Andhra Pradesh. TRS MP B Vinod Kumar said the party would take part in the debate on the no-trust motion and would take a call, when required, on whether it would participation in the voting at all or just walk out.

“The two parties (AIADMK and TRS) have a combined strength of 48 MPs in the Lok Sabha,” a fourth BJP? leader said. “If they are not supporting the no-confidence motion, it helps our cause.”

The second BJP leader said the BJP has reached out to Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal headed by Naveen Patnaik and it hopes that the party, which is in a turf war with the Congress locally, will not support the motion moved by the opposition. The BJD has 20 members in the Lok Sabha.

“We expect support from down south and far east,” Ananth Kumar said. “We will also expect that the Congress will remain present till the end of the voting and not walk out.” The minister dismissed Congress leader Sonia Gandhi’s claim about opposition having the numbers and said “her mathematics is poor”.

When asked about the numbers, Congress leader Anand Sharma said, ‘This is not about numbers. We want to expose the government.”

Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Wednesday admitted the no-confidence notice of the TDP and backed by other parties and fixed Friday as the day for the debate and vote. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to reply to the 7-hour long debate at around 6 pm on Friday.

“The significance of the motion is largely for the TDP, which will be able to send a message to its voters and people in Andhra that we walked out of the government and challenged them through a no-confidence motion,” said Sanjay Kumar of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. “Mamata Banerjee will also seek to gain the same kind of mileage in her state, by projecting herself as challenging BJP. I don’t see any gains for Congress. Modi would try to attack Congress aggressively and the issues Congress raises may not resonate with the larger electorate.” Gilles Verniers of the Trivedi Centre for Political?Data at the Ashoka University was skeptical, like Kumar, of the utility of the motion and vote for the Congress. “What the Congress is trying to achieve is not clear as it does not have the numbers to carry it. Forcing potential partners to come off the wood early on the matter of an opposition alliance may not be the best strategy to build an anti-BJP front, ahead of a yet to be scheduled election.” He felt the BJP would gain. “The BJP will be able to spin the matter positively, regardless of the amplitude of the outcome. It enables the Prime Minister to lodge himself in the comfortable position of the providential leader besieged by powerless opposition parties:”

Neelanjan Sircar of the Centre for Policy Research argued that the motion was a reflection of an increasingly polarised polity , and suggested that the vote would actually be important in revealing which regional player stood where. “Through the act of voting, or not voting, they would be sending signals. It reinforces once again the fact that the central faultline in the polity today is whether you are with the BJP or against it,” he added.

First Published: Jul 20, 2018 00:52 IST