New Delhi: As India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government prepared for the no-confidence motion on Friday, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is leaving nothing to chance despite having the numbers.
On Thursday, all BJP lawmakers were asked to have lunch and dinner together in order to ensure that everyone was present for the no-confidence vote in Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) on Friday. The party has issued a whip for all Members of Parliament (MPs) to be present and vote against the motion.
The House will debate and vote on the no-confidence motion against the government, the first since the NDA came to power four years ago. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had on Wednesday accepted the motion moved by Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
On Friday, TDP President and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu wrote a letter to all MPs, stating that “in view of the continued adamant attitude of BJP-led NDA government, TDP has moved a No Confidence Motion against them. I appeal to you to support the motion moved by our MPs”.
A no-confidence motion is usually moved by the opposition to state that the political party does not enjoy majority in the House anymore. The members, who move a no-confidence motion, need not always give a reason for moving such a motion.
After the speaker admits such a motion, the government has to prove its majority on the floor of the house. After this if the government fails to prove its majority, then the government must resign.
Currently, there are 535 members in the House and the magic number is 268. In 2014, BJP won with 282 MPs but after losses in bypolls, it currently has 273 MPs. BJP and its allies together have 315 members, well past the required majority mark of 268.
Despite his differences with the BJP, Shiv Sena head Uddhav Thackeray is all set to vote in favour of the Modi government. BJP president Amit Shah called Thackeray on Thursday, after which the Sena issued a whip to all its MPs to support the BJP during the trust vote.
Sources in Tamil Nadu’s ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) indicated that the party would abstain from voting, which will help the Modi government. Telangana Rashtra Samiti is also likely to abstain from voting.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami has hinted that his party AIADMK might not back the motion.
“You should understand. TDP has moved the no-confidence motion for a problem concerning Andhra Pradesh. When AIADMK MPs from Tamil Nadu stalled Parliament during the previous session, who did voice support for us, who came forward to solve the problems of Cauvery delta farmers? Which state came forward. No state did,” Palaniswami told media.
Meanwhile, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) working president MK Stalin urged ruling AIADMK to support the no-confidence motion.
“Let’s vote together in favour of the motion. The move is expected to be a turning point in Parliamentary democracy,” Stalin told both AIADMK and DMK lawmakers.
Significantly, the reaction of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) would be keenly watched. With its 20 MPs, the party has distanced itself from both the BJP and the opposition.
Asked about the Congress leader Sonia Gandhi’s claim that the Opposition had the required numbers, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar on Friday said, “Sonia Gandhi’s maths is weak. She had calculated similarly in 1996. We know what happened then. Their calculation is wrong yet again. Modi government has majority both inside and outside Parliament”.
BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said the government had the required strength in the House to defeat the motion.
“We have the strength in the House if one went by Indian mathematics. I wonder if Sonia Gandhi knew some other mathematics,” Madhav tweeted.
But BJP still has MPs such as Shatrughan Sinha, Kirti Azad and Savitribai Phule who could vote against it.
Knowing that, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said, “it would be interesting to see how some BJP MPs like Shatrugan Sinha, Kirti Azad react, what are the positions which they take because essentially this is going to be for all practical purposes, perhaps the last session of parliament”.