On the first day of Monsoon Session of parliament on Wednesday, the Congress-led opposition announced its intention to move a no confidence motion in the Lok Sabha. The move was quite similar to that in the Budget Session earlier this year. That no-trust appeal was turned down by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
However, this time the Speaker admitted the Opposition’s no-confidence move and agreed for a debate on Friday followed by the vote. This swift move blunts Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge’s request that the motion be taken up in 10 days. The Opposition strategy, perhaps, was to rally around their move as many fence-sitters as possible. The CPI(M), CPM, RSP and the Samajwadi Party have already supported the no-confidence motion, officially moved by the Telugu Desam Party.
But by calling for the vote in just 48 hours, the ruling BJP is denying the Opposition any like-minded parleys to give the NDA even a close fight and send a strong message to the electorate about it being on a possible sticky wicket in Parliament.
The Shiv Sena, the most vocal critic of the BJP in recent days, has already said it will not break the NDA for this no-trust motion. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar later said, “Now, they (the Opposition) are hesitating (on whether it was prudent to call for a no-confidence motion in this session).”
The Trinamool Congress was the first to seek a different date because it has a mega party event planned in Kolkata over the weekend. Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge supported the demand.
When the Speaker did not accept the request to put off the no-trust vote, Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee eventually ordered the party’s 34 lawmakers to head back to New Delhi for Friday’s vote and return to Kolkata for the TMC event on Saturday.
According to NDTV, sources in BJP said that the change in the government’s approach to allow the no-confidence vote was driven by party president Amit Shah.
The BJP felt that once the no-trust vote is debated and defeated, the Opposition would not have any excuse to disrupt proceedings of the House.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will reply to the debate, is expected to use the occasion as a launching pad for the 2019 campaign.
“We will put the welfare schemes and development projects carried out by the government in last four years before the people,” Ananth Kumar added.
A BJP leader said the government’s numbers would also work to its advantage as more lawmakers from the ruling coalition would get an opportunity to speak on the motion than the Opposition because of its sheer strength in the Lok Sabha.
Parties are allocated time in debates according to their strength in parliament.
The NDA expects to get be supported by at least 314 MPs in the lower house, which has an effective strength of 535 members. The list, however, does not include Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who is also a BJP MP. The majority mark is 268.