The Lok Sabha today took up for debate the no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi led NDA government. This is the first no-confidence vote India will see in 15 years.
The motion was moved by the Telugu Desam Party and admitted by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Wednesday, July 18, the first day of the monsoon session of parliament. MP Jayadev Galla initiated the debate on behalf of the party.
“People are tired of empty promises and unfulfilled promises,” Galla said, bringing up the issue of special category status for Andhra Pradesh. “It is not a war between TDP and BJP, but between morality and majority. Motion of no confidence is against the lack of fairness, lack of trust, lack of unbiased approach towards Andhra Pradesh.”
When Galla said that neighbouring states received more during the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana Rashtra Samiti jumped into the well to protest. The speaker asked for calm in the house.
According to the MP, the Andhra Pradesh had been deceived by Galla, “Since 2016, we have been waiting for the special package that the Union finance minister had said would be equivalent to a Special Category Status (SCS). You (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) deceived us into believing and agreeing to the special package on the lines of the 14th Finance Commission. You didn’t even bother giving it legislative backing.”
After Galla, BJP MP Rakesh Singh addressed the Lok Sabha. He attacked Rahul Gandhi and previous Congress governments, saying, “This time the no-confidence motion is distinct from all other motions of no confidence till now. For the first time, we are seeing a no-confidence motion against a government that is working so well for the country. We recently saw Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy shed tears and say that he has gulped poison in order to form the coalition. I am not sure how many parties have to do the same if they support the motion.”
Singh said that the Narendra Modi government has been “extremely successful” in raising the issues of poor people and bringing them out of poverty. He brought up several schemes including the Ujjwala Yojana, Ayushman Bharat and crop insurance schemes to claim that the poor in the country would “fold their hand in thanks to the prime minister”.Rahul Gandhi on Modi’s ‘jumla strike’
Congress president Rahul Gandhi spoke after Singh, beginning his speech by talking to 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,” Gandhi said.
“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.
Gandhi also brought up Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah in his speech. The Wire had exclusively reported on how Jay Shah saw a dramatic increase in some of his businesses since Narendra Modi became prime minister. “He said he is India’s chowkidaar. But when Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah increases his income by 16,000 times, Prime Minister Modi remain mum,” he said.
The speaker said Jay Shah’s name would be expunged from the parliament records.
Gandhi next moved to Nirmala Sitharaman and the Rafale deal. “Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said she will tell the country about the cost. Then she said it’s 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.
“I looked Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the eye, and he couldn’t even face me. He is not a chowkidaar, he is baaghidaar,” Gandhi continued.
Several BJP MPs including Ananth Kumar protested as Gandhi gave his speech. “Dariye mat (Don’t be scared),” Gandhi said to them. The speaker then adjourned the session for a few minutes. Once the session was resumed, she asked for peace in the house.
After Gandhi resumed speaking, he said Modi and Amit Shah “cannot afford to lose power because when they do, other processes will start against them”. At the end of his speech, he walked across to the prime minister and hugged him. Modi looked surprised, and shook Gandhi’s hand.
The speaker gave Nirmala Sitharaman a chance to speak after Gandhi, saying that she deserved the chance to respond to the allegations that had been made.BJD, Shiv Sena walk out before debate
The Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal staged a walkout before the debate started. “We had no choice, this was a perfect decision. We are not helping the BJP government,” BJD lawmaker Tataghat Satpathy told NDTV.
The Shiv Sena had announced before the vote that it will be abstaining, and also walked out of the house. “We are with the NDA today, can’t say about tomorrow,” the party spokesperson said.
Earlier, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge raised the issue of the amount of time given to opposition parties in parliament, saying it was not possible to hold a debate “within one minute”.
Ahead of the motion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with Amit Shah and key BJP MPs inside parliament.
There have been 26 no-confidence motions in the Lok Sabha in the past. Twenty-five of them were unsuccessful, and one did not reach the voting stage because Morarji Desai resigned as prime minister.
The National Democratic Alliance has 312 members in the 533-member house. The majority mark is 267, as 11 seats are vacant. Though the numbers are stacked against the opposition, the Congress and other parties have indicated that they are keen to utilise the debate to bring up a range of of issues including farm distress, slow economic growth and rising incidents of lynching.
Before the discussion, Union minister Ananth Kumar had said that the NDA would prove its majority in the parliament and said the opposition would see the strength of “NDA plus” during the no-trust motion.
BJP leaders had said that ahead of the assembly polls in four states due later this year and the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP leaders see the debate as an opportunity to reach out to the masses with “successes” of the government and also to attack the “opportunist alliance” of opposition parties.
In the 38 minutes that has been allotted to the Congress party during the no-confidence motion that the Lok Sabha will debate on Friday, the party has readied a line-up of five stalwarts to raise crucial issues. Apart from Congress president Rahul Gandhi, leaders from the party who are slated to speak are Jyotiraditya Scindia, Mallikarjun Kharge, Shashi Tharoor and KC Venugopal.
UPA chief Sonia Gandhi along with other senior leaders of the party brainstormed the strategy for Friday's big showdown.
In his speech, Rahul Gandhi will speak about defence deals stressing on the Rafale deal, party sources said. The party has been alleging a scam in the deal for a while now. It remains unclear whether Gandhi will open the debate for the Congress party, or will it be Kharge who is the party's leader in the lower house. Kharge is slated to speak on lynchings and rising atrocities on the SC/ST community.
The time allotted to the Congress party late Thursday evening, with 48 members in the House, could prove to be a damper, eating away into the time earmarked for each speaker. The party is banking on Scindia's finesse in Hindi to counter PM Narendra Modi's onslaught. He is expected to pin down the government by raising the issue of farmer and skyrocketing petrol and diesel prices.
The TDP, whose no-confidence motion will be taken up Friday, is allotted 13 minutes to speak. It will open the debate, and on the party's behalf three MPs -- Galla Reddy, Rammohan Naidu and Kesineni Srinivas, who moved the motion -- will speak. Apart from the issue of granting Special Status to Andhra Pradesh, TDP will also speak on the unfulfillment of the promises made under the Reorganisation Act.
On the other hand, alloted the lion's share of three-and-a-half hours of the total seven hours in the debate, the Bharatiya Janata Party obvious choice of speaker will be PM Modi. The other speakers the party has lined up -- Hukumdev Narayan Yadav, Anurag Thakur, and Virendra Singh -- have been selected such that they do not take away from Modi's speech.
The opposition move for a no-confidence motion was not allowed by the speaker in the last Budget session of parliament, a move that was criticised by many.