No-confidence motion: Day of mixed fortunes for BJP and Opposition

TDP MP Jayadev Galla in the Lok Sabha during the ‘no-confidence motion’ in Parliament on Friday. The TDP, a former ally of the BJP, had moved the motion during the ongoing monsoon session. | Photo: PTI
The debate on the no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government in the Lok Sabha belied the expectations of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) strategists that some of the regional parties might come out in its support. 

In the morning, the BJP was jolted when Shiv Sena’s 18 MPs decided to abstain from attending the day’s proceedings. BJP president Amit Shah had reached out to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on the eve of the no-confidence motion, but to little avail. 

The Sena also threatened that it might end its alliance with the BJP for the Lok Sabha polls. Sena MP Sanjay Raut applauded Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s act of hugging the PM. “I think Rahul Gandhi has matured as a politician. It wasn’t a jhappi (hug) to the PM, but jhatka (jolt),” he said. 

But the Opposition also had to count its losses. The Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the ruling party in Odisha, staged a walkout before the debate started. Compulsions of state politics made it necessary for the BJD to remain equidistant from both the Congress and BJP. It didn't want to be seen supporting either. 

While the Congress has been the principal opposition party in the state in the last two decades, the BJP has witnessed a surge and performed creditably in the civic polls. BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab said neither the 10-years of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance rule benefitted Odisha, nor have the four years of BJP-led NDA rule at the Centre. In the run-up to the no-confidence motion debate, the Congress had reached out to the BJD leadership with a request to support the motion. 

Prem Singh Chandumajra, Shiromani Akali Dal MP, a BJP ally, criticised the Congress, but without directly referring to the BJP, called for preserving the country’s unity in diversity, and appealed for minority rights to be protected.  Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan of the Lok Jan Shakti Party, a BJP ally, said there is no vacancy for the Prime Minister’s post in 2019. However, Paswan highlighted Dalit issues, and said if the government didn’t conform to the Constitution then his party might also hit the streets. 

Trinamool leader Saugata Roy said the motion was moved by BJP’s estranged ally Telugu Desam Party, while current partner Shiv Sena, which is part of the government, has boycotted it. “This showed that the no confidence has already taken place,” he said. 

In his speech, AIADMK leader P Venugopal accused the central government of giving step-motherly treatment to Tamil Nadu and sought more allocation of funds to the state. “We are a large contributor to the government’s revenue but what we get in return, very little,” he said.  Venugopal alleged that Tamil Nadu has been penalised for achieving economic progress and controlling population. However, the AIADMK voted with the government to defeat the no-confidence motion.

Participating in the debate, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leader B Vinod Kumar claimed that the Modi government has not been able to fulfil the expectations of the people.

He said the people of Telangana were annoyed with the Modi government at the outset of its rule in 2014 when a decision had been taken to merge seven ‘mandals’ of Khammam district of Telangana with Andhra Pradesh, following bifurcation of undivided Andhra Pradesh. 

Kumar demanded that the seven ‘mandals’ of Khammam district be returned to Telangana. He also sought financial assistance to implement various welfare projects. 

The BJP had reached out to both the AIADMK and the TRS.

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