First No-Confidence Motion Against Narendra Modi Govt: Will It Work?
First No-Confidence Motion Against Narendra Modi, On the opening day of the monsoon session on Wednesday, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan accepted an opposition motion for a no-trust vote that the government ought to win with ease but which should see a riveting clash on issues ranging from farm distress, lynching and polarisation. The vote will take place on Friday. The change in the government’s stand it had stonewalled the demand in the budget session took the opposition by surprise as it had expected a stand-off. The government’s decision stemmed from its confidence about its numbers and was based on the assessment that another washed-out session would allow the opposition to argue that BJP was spooked by fears of defections despite its majority.
BJP managers said the no-trust motion the first to be faced by the Modi government will be defeated convincingly as NDA commands a tally of 315 MPs (including the Speaker) in a House with a current strength of 535 and 268 as the halfway mark. BJP’s strength in the House is 273, including two nominated members. The final NDA number could vary slightly as some BJP MPs are in dissident mode while a few are unwell or abroad.
The stated strength of the opposition is 222, including 63 of Congress-led UPA, 37 of AIADMK, 34 of TMC, 20 of BJD, 16 of TDP and 11 of TRS. Mahajan accepted the notice given by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) going by the submission being the earliest even as other parties, including Congress, did so too.
The opposition, though aware that numbers are against it, is looking to use the debate to attack the Modi government over several issues and showcase unity among major non-NDA parties. “We will raise several issues such as price rise, rising intolerance, poor implementation of GST, harm caused by demonetisation and the distress caused to farmers and inadequacy of the new MSP regime,” said a leader. Launching an attack on Modi in a televised debate which should fetch eyeballs nationally may have psychological benefits too.
Congress functionaries said the debate will see a sharp and focused attack on the government for creating disharmony and unfulfilled promises on combating corruption, boosting the economy and delivering on jobs. Major initiatives like hikes in support prices for farm produce and an ambitious health insurance scheme will also come in for criticism as inadequate and only a late knee-jerk reaction to public woes. An intervention by Congress president Rahul Gandhi will be much anticipated. Parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar said the government was prepared to face the motion. “The entire country has confidence in PM Narendra Modi and let that be clear once and for all,” he said.
According to BJP sources, unlike the situation in the budget session, the party is confident of taking on Congress, which took a clear stand right in the beginning of this session with its own notice, unlike the last time when it delayed before joining TDP and others. “Earlier, a party with a handful of MPs sought a no-trust,” said a BJP leader. The government also feels that with the motion out of the way, Parliament, including the Rajya Sabha, would function smoothly while Modi would use the occasion to showcase his government’s record.
BJP plans to paint Congress and other opposition parties as an opportunistic alliance driven by no ideology other than ousting Modi. NDA speakers can be expected to highlight contrasts from the UPA tenure by way of improved pace of development and strong measures to clean up the economy by promoting digitisation, insolvency laws, linking welfare benefits to Aadhaar and direct transfers and measures to boost farm incomes.
BJP does not expect any ripples in its own camp as despite its rumblings, the Shiv Sena is expected to go along with the government. The party has been making threatening noises but is not expected to take a step that will sever its connections with the NDA without any lifeline in Maharashtra.
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