By Prarthana Mitra
After Telugu Desam Party’s motion to hold a no-confidence vote was admitted on Wednesday, Indian political parties and pundits prepared themselves for the first such vote in 15 years.
On Friday, the first day of the monsoon session of parliament, the house took up the debate on “morality and majority”, as MP Jayadev Galla succinctly put it. Galla who initiated the debate on behalf of the TDP, said, People are tired of empty promises and unfulfilled promises…Motion of no confidence is against the lack of fairness, lack of trust, lack of unbiased approach towards Andhra Pradesh.
Referring to the distribution of resources during the state bifurcation, Galla cried foul. The session fell into brief disarray after Telangana Rashtra Samiti jumped into the well to protest, also abstaining from the vote. Shiv Sena and BJD also staged a walkout before the vote, refusing to support the BJP government.
Despite Congress party chief Rahul Gandhi’s acerbic attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s association with certain corporations and his government’s policies, the centre won the no-confidence vote backed by 325 of the 533 MPs. Before the closing of the session, Modi reassured full cooperation with the TDP, saying, “I want to tell the people of Andhra Pradesh that we will keep working for them. We will do everything possible for the development of the state.”
Special status for the state triggered TDP to file the no-confidence motion. Whether it is the construction of new capital Amaravati or the welfare of farmers in the state, I want to assure everyone that the Centre will make all efforts for Andhra Pradesh, Modi said in his closing speech.
Here are some key takeaways, highlights, comments from the historic debate that preceded the vote.
Rahul Gandhi: Jumla strike, Rafale deal and a hug
Besides the iconic and one-sided hug Rahul Gandhi bestowed on Modi after his speech, he also managed to ruffle a lot of feathers.
The Congress president began his speech addressing Galla, You are a victim of the fantastic 21st century political weapon and there are many other victims like you. This weapon is called the jumla strike. The farmers, Dalits, tribals, youths and women are also victims of this weapon.”
Symptoms of the jumla strike include: First there is a great sense of excitement and happiness. After that there is shock and then followed by regret. Youth in India trusted Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In every speech he gave, he said he will give jobs to two crore youth. But only four lakh people have got jobs, the Congress president continued.
Bringing up Amit Shahs son Jay Shah in his speech, Gandhi pointed out, He said he is Indias chowkidaar. But when Amit Shahs son Jay Shah increases his income by 16,000 times, Prime Minister Modi remains mum, he said.
Gandhi attacked Nirmala Sitharaman for the Rafale deal next. Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said she will tell the country about the cost. Then she said its a secrecy pact between both countries. I asked the French president about this secrecy pact but he denied the existence of any such pact. He also told me that he had no problems in making public the cost, Gandhi said.
Later in the evening, the French government released an official statement, according to ANI, saying that India and France had agreed to protect classified information provided by the other.
Rakesh Singh: The poor would fold their hand in thanks to the prime minister
BJP MP Rakesh Singh attacked Gandhi’s rallying cry for voting in favour of the motion, saying, “For the first time, we are seeing a no-confidence motion against a government that is working so well for the country. Calling the government extremely successful in alleviating poverty, he brought up several schemes including the Ujjwala Yojana, Ayushman Bharat and crop insurance schemes to justify his claims.
Rajnath Singh: Opposition forced to unite against us
Union home minister Rajnath Singh said, Those who want to bring the no-confidence motion against this government, none of them have the strength of numbers and they have to get together to do so. The opposition has been forced to unite against us.
He also took a potshot at Rahul Gandhi towards the end of his speech, saying, There are some who are born with a silver spoon, for them the pain of the poor can be a matter of hearing but not of suffering.
Mallikarjun Kharge: BJP’s devotion to RSS against Ambedkarian principles
Perhaps the most cogent statement of the day was made by the leader of the opposition in the house, Mallikarjun Kharge, who accused the government of dividing the society, and that the BJPs devotion to the RSS is against the principles of B.R. Ambedkar.
The way you are operating now, the way you are mistreating minorities, compromising on freedom of speech, spreading inequality, democracy would have been demolished by now had we adhered to your measures as well, Kharge said.
PM: May God give you power to bring a no-trust motion even in 2024
Today the nation has seen the negativity expressed by some members. India saw how some people are so deeply opposed to development, the prime minister said.
To remove one Modi, see who all they are trying to bring together, the prime minister said. We are here because we have the blessings of 125 crore Indians. We are not here for selfish interests. We have served the nation with the Mantra of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas.
He countered Congress’ attack on his government with an equal and opposite one on the opposition, calling out their penchant for emotionally blackmailing poor and for their attempts to dismantle a stable government. The prime minister also said that the Congress does not trust anyone including the chief justice, the central bank, international agencies, the Election Commission because they do not trust themselves.
Modi dredged up the opposition’s remarks, calling the surgical strikes jumla. “Abuse me, but not those who have laid down their lives for the country,” he said.
Modi also brought up his working class origins, You are naamdaar, but I am kaamdaar, how can I dare to look at you in the eyes.
Pledging support to all minorities and marginalised classes, Modi touted his governments rural electrification, Ujjwala Yojana, Ayushman Bharat, agrarian policies and banking reforms. Resting his argument on helming India to become the fastest growing economy in the world, Modi called all MPs to vote against the no-confidence, although many would say they were poised to win before the voting even began.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius