What is a no-confidence motion? Find out as BJP govt, Opposition square off

The Lok Sabha will on Friday debate the no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi-led government, moved by N Chandrababu Naidu-led former ally, the Telegu Desam Party (TDP). Seven hours have been set aside for this debate, which will begin at 11 am.   

On the first day of Parliament's monsoon session, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan accepted the TDP's no-confidence motion against the Centre over the Andhra Pradesh special status row.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) last faced a no-confidence motion under the leadership of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2003. The Vajpayee-led government had defeated the motion with an overwhelming majority.    

What is a no-confidence motion?

While Article 75 of the Indian Constitution specifies that the council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the House of the People, there is no mention of a no-confidence motion in the Constitution: All it means is that the majority of the Lok Sabha members must be with the Prime Minister and his Cabinet.  

Article 118 of the Constitution permits each House of Parliament to make its own rules for conduct of business. Rule 198 of the Lok Sabha specifies the procedure for a motion of no-confidence. Any member might give a written notice before 10 am; the Speaker will read the motion of no-confidence in the House and ask all those favouring the motion be taken up to rise. If there are 50 MPs in favour, the Speaker could allot a date for discussing the motion – but this has to be within 10 days. However, this cannot be done in conditions of din or confusion in the House. 

Did a govt ever lose a no-confidence motion in India?

The first National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had lost such a motion in 1999.  

What happens if both a motion for no-confidence and a motion for confidence are tabled?

In 1990, when V P Singh had tabled a motion of confidence and a member had given the notice for a no-confidence motion, the Speaker had given precedence to government business and taken the motion of confidence.

What happens if the prime minister loses a motion of confidence?

He has to resign, and the President has to identify another person who enjoys the confidence of the Lok Sabha.