by Elton Gomes
For the first time in a span of 15 years, a no-confidence vote against the NDA government was moved and accepted in the Lok Sabha today. The no-confidence motion was moved by the Congress, Telugu Desam Party (TDP), and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party, and will be taken up in the Lok Sabha on Friday. The matter will be discussed in the Rajya Sabha on Monday.
The motion of no-confidence is being viewed as an opportunity for the opposition to rattle the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the 2019 general elections, and perhaps compel fence sitters, like the Biju Janata Dal, to take a side. However, the BJP might be unfazed by the motion, as it has 273 members in the Lok Sabha, which is higher than the half-way mark.
Will the BJP be affected by the no-confidence motion?
The NDA currently enjoys majority in the parliament and might not be at risk of being toppled by a no-confidence motion. However, such a motion can tarnish the NDA’s image, as the issue of granting special status to Andhra Pradesh will certainly be debated by various leaders. Furthermore, other NDA allies might also raise similar regional issues and express discontent within the alliance.
The BJP has already lost support of the TDP. In Maharashtra, the BJP and its ally, Shiva Sena, have constantly been at loggerheads with each other. The saffron party’s ally in Punjab, the Shiromani Akali Dal, has also expressed discontent with the BJP.
Even if some of the BJP’s members decide to go against the party during the no-confidence vote, the party might not be affected thanks to a legal clause. According to an anti-defection law passed in 1985, a party can disqualify an MP if he or she goes against its whip.
The monsoon session of the parliament
According to PRS Legislative Research, a total of 25 bills have been listed for consideration and passage, while three bills might be withdrawn during the monsoon session. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) bill 2018, and 18 new bills are expected to be introduced. The Fugitive Economic Offenders bill 2018, Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) bill 2017, and Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) bill 2016 are important bills listed for consideration and passage.
The opposition will look to deliberate on several issues such as increasing cases of mob lynchings across the country, incidents of communal violence, atrocities against women, rising fuel and commodity prices, current political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, bank frauds, the agrarian crisis, and the Karnataka assembly polls.
The no-confidence motion
The TDP and its archrival YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), which are the ruling and main opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh, passed no-confidence motions against the government during the budget session of Parliament in March. However, the motions were not taken up due to several disruptions. Both parties are demanding special category status for Andhra Pradesh with regards to its bifurcation in June 2014.
The TDP and the YSRCP received support from the Congress and other parties like the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Samajwadi Party, and Aam Aadmi Party in passing the no-confidence vote. An MP from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) also confirmed that the party would attempt to move a no-confidence motion.
A look at what happened in the past
Congress moved no-confidence vote against Vajpayee-led government in 2003
Congress and other opposition parties passed a no-confidence motion against the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government in August 2003, after defence minister George Fernandes was reinstated in the Union Cabinet. The NDA comfortably defeated the motion and secured 312 votes, while the opposition managed to gain 186 votes. Sonia Gandhi, the then leader of opposition, accused the Vajpayee government of undermining India’s non-aligned position in world affairs. The opposition also claimed that the government had lost the mandate of the people, but Prime Minister Vajpayee disputed this claim. Vajpayee then declared that Fernandes has been the best defence minister, and that he, as prime minister, was the one who re-inducted Fernandes.
The UPA won a trust vote in 2008
In 2008, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh won a confidence motion in a display fraught with controversy. Three opposition MPs were shown with wads of currency in the Lok Sabha, and it was alleged that they were bribed to abstain from voting in the confidence vote. Prime minister Singh won the motion after 275 MPs voted in favour, while 256 voted against. The motion was also overshadowed by a standoff with the US over a nuclear deal. The nuclear deal saw the Left Front withdraw support from the UPA, though this did not have a significant impact.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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