Lok Sabha to take up no-trust move against Narendra Modi government on Friday

The no-confidence motion was tabled on the first day of the monsoon session, even as the Prime Minister said the government was ready for any discussion.

india Updated: Jul 18, 2018 23:26 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Parliament monsoon session 2018,Monsoon session of Parliament,Parliament
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives to address the media ahead of the Monsoon Session of Parliament, in New Delhi.(PTI Photo)

The Lok Sabha will debate and vote on the opposition’s no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government on Friday, speaker Sumitra Mahajan said on Wednesday in a surprise move, setting the stage for the first no-trust vote on the floor of Parliament in 15 years .

On the first day of parliament’s monsoon session, the Speaker admitted a notice of no-confidence motion by Kesineni Srinivas, a member of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), an estranged ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.. A group of other opposition parties have supported the motion, but the arithmetic of the house offers a comfortable numerical edge to the government -- the BJP alone has 273 members in the house with an effective strength of 535 members, excluding the Speaker. Nine seats are vacant.

The motion for the debate will state, “This House expresses no confidence in the Council of Ministers”.

A ruling party leader said on condition of anonymity that the government wanted the no-confidence motion to be wrapped up quickly so that the remaining days of the monsoon session can be devoted to getting important bills passed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, he said, also wanted to take the opposition by surprise by accepting the no-confidence challenge on day one. “We feel the opposition will have no issue to disrupt the house after the no-confidence is taken up,” a minister said.

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In the house on Wednesday, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge demanded that his party, as the largest single opposition group, be allowed to move the no-confidence motion, but the Speaker declined, citing rules that the first mover, the TDP in this case, gets the chance. This will be the first no-confidence vote in Parliament since 2003, when the then-NDA government, led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, sailed through a no-trust motion initiated by the Congress.

The TDP quit the NDA in March over the denial of so-called special category status to Andhra Pradesh which would have entitled the state, bifurcated in 2014 to carve out Telangana as India’s youngest and 29th state, to special central grants and other incentives.

The no-confidence motion has the support of the Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Samajwadi Party (SP), and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI(M), a bitter rival of the TMC, among others.

“The government, which led farmers to commit suicide, under whose regime women are being raped everyday...we move a no-confidence motion against you,” Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said during question hour on Wednesday.

When asked about the opposition’s chances of emerging victorious, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi asked reporters, “Who says we don’t have the numbers?” The list of speakers representing the Congress is to be decided at the party’s parliamentary meet on Friday. Party president Rahul?Gandhi is among the likely speakers. Leaders said that they will use the opportunity to attack the government on issues such as mob lynching, jobs, agrarian crisis, price rise, demonetisation, bank frauds, and alleged atrocities on?Dalits.

The government said it was confident of its numbers and was looking forward to a debate in which it can showcase its achievements.

“We are ready for a vote. The entire country has confidence in Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar said in the house after the TDP notice was admitted. “This government enjoys a two-thirds majority.” He claimed that the government would get the backing of not just the National?Democratic Alliance constituents, but ‘NDA?plus’, which would include other friendly forces .

The TDP and other opposition parties had moved a notice of no confidence motion against the government during the budget session, too, but it could not be taken up for debate because proceedings were hit by numerous disruptions On Wednesday, there was a different dynamic in the house.

Six ordinances were promulgated after the budget session, and they have to be replaced with legislation in the monsoon session. They include The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, which provides for seizure of the properties of economic offenders who have fled overseas to avoid prosecution, and the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, which provides the death penalty for rape of minor girls below the age of 12 years.

A second BJP leader said on condition of anonymity that before the next round of state elections in November and December, the government will attempt to take the fizz out of the opposition’s campaign, which has centred on special category status , and issues such as mob lynchings and a farm crisis. “Issues raised through no-confidence motion cannot be raised again in that session,” a union minister said.

But while confident that the NDA government will make it, a BJP leader admitted that some disgruntled MPs, who have spoken out against the government, may cross over during the vote. “But if they do that, they will lose their membership as well,” the leader said.

The government, for its part, has taken credit for putting the economy back on the path of growth, boosting minimum support prices for farmers’ produce to ensure they get remunerative returns, and implementing the Goods and Services Tax, among others.

“The Modi government has enough to speak about achievements of last four years. The Prime Minister alone can demolish the opposition during the debate,” BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said.

Neelanjan Sircar, senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, said: “Getting opposition unity in 2019 will be a difficult job. The big take away from the no-confidence motion is that there is an exercise before the 2019 for coordination, behavioural changes and a greater ability to forge an alliance in next election.”

First Published: Jul 18, 2018 11:08 IST