When the Congress-led opposition announced its intention to move a no trust motion against the BJP-led national coalition yesterday, many in the opposition had braced for a repeat of the budget session earlier this year when the centre was seen to resist the debate and the disruptions in Lok Sabha ensured the Speaker Sumitra Mahajan couldn’t take up the motion.
But as parliament’s monsoon session began today, the government sprung a surprise on the opposition. There were no disruptions when the chair took up the notice from TDP and other parties for the motion.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge requested that the motion should be taken up within 10 days. But he was taken aback when Sumitra Mahajan decided to have the motion debated on two days later, on Friday.
“Now they are hesitating,” parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar later said, jeeringly.
The Trinamool Congress, the third largest party in the opposition bloc, 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, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee eventually ordered the party’s 34 lawmakers to head back to the national capital for Friday’s vote and return to Kolkata for the party event on Saturday.
BJP sources told NDTV that the change in the government’s approach to allow the no-confidence vote was driven by party boss and master strategist Amit Shah.
For one, the BJP felt that once the no-trust vote is debated and defeated, the opposition would not have any excuse to disrupt proceedings.
It was also felt that the no-trust motion could be a good platform to bust, what the BJP insists, is the myth around the “much-hyped” opposition unity.
One, the BJP hopes to demonstrate that not all non-NDA parties are with the Congress-led opposition that has been pushing for the no-confidence motion.
Secondly, the BJP expects the crushing defeat of the motion to send a clear message that a united opposition wasn’t strong enough to take on the ruling coalition or the party.
“We will not just get the NDA votes but also the support from other parties as well,” Ananth Kumar said.
Mr Kumar also underlined that the day-long debate would not only give the government an opportunity to counter all the lies that the opposition was expected to peddle but also highlight the “huge achievements” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government over the last four years.
PM Modi, who will reply to the debate, is expected to use the occasion as a launching pad for this campaign for next year’s 2019 election.
“We will put the welfare schemes and development projects carried out by the government in last four years before the people,” Ananth Kumar said.
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 house.
Parties are allocated time in debates according to their strength in parliament.
The government expects to get the support of at least 314 MPs in the lower house, which has an effective strength of 535 members. The list of the 314 MPs, however, does not include Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who is also a BJP MP. The majority mark is 268.