No-trust vote: TRS abstentions, NDA wins By 325-126 with AIADMK backing and BJD
No-trust vote: TRS abstentions, NDA wins By 325-126 with AIADMK, Marked by moments of high drama and histrionics, the no-confidence debate in Lok Sabha saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi capitalising on Rahul Gandhi’s surprise hug to suggest that the Congress chief ’s gesture asking him to get up only reflected an unfounded eagerness to assume the high office. “Those who want to reach here in a hurry came here and gestured ‘get up, get up’,” Modi said.
Gesturing with his hands, he mimicked Rahul’s actions, providing more drama to a 12-hour debate that ended with BJP winning the vote by a large margin, its numbers swelling to 325 with 451 votes cast. The opposition scored a sub-par result with its tally reaching 126 as TRS and BJD walked out. The surprise abstention of Shiv Sena was more than made up by the support of AIADMK.
A combative PM said he would like the opposition to bring another no-confidence motion against him in 2024, implying that BJP was well on its way to returning to office in the Lok Sabha elections next year. He lashed out at Congress, saying its arguments during the no-confidence motion reflected a “deep lack of confidence in itself ”.
Gandhi had ended his speech by walking across to the PM. When Modi did not rise from his seat, he reached down and hugged him. As he walked away, Modi called him back to shake his hand and pat him on his back, even as MPs watched, most of them taken aback.
“Congress has no confidence in itself. It has no belief in Swachh Bharat, in international yoga day, the Chief Justice of India, Reserve Bank of India, the official agency that compiles national data, the rising value of Indian passport, the Election Commission, electronic voting machines. not even on itself,” he said. Its lack of confidence was leading Congress to create uncertainty and instability, said the PM. “If you don’t believe in people, you will find yourself on the run. In a democracy, the people are the ‘bhagya vidhata ’,” he said.
Modi also responded to Rahul’s jibe that he couldn’t look him in the eye over allegations of corruption in the Rafale deal, saying, “How can I have the courage to do so. a son of a poor mother, who was born in a family of modest means.” He drove the point home, saying the Congress’s first family considered the post to be its preserve.
He reminded that her remark “who says we don’t have the numbers” was reminiscent of her 1999 claim of having 272 MPs. The debate saw Rahul and other opposition leaders launch hard hitting attacks on the government, arguing that BJP had failed on several counts ranging from foreign policy to protecting the interests of farmers. It was often marked by acrimony as leaders hit campaign notes.
Rahul started combatively, blending aggression which has been his trademark since the Gujarat campaign with vitriol.
He accused Modi government of duping people by launching “jumla strikes” a litany of fake promises, in plain English. He also charged the government with hurting the economy, especially the small and informal business, through demonetisation and GST, and for not creating jobs. However, he went over the top by walking across the aisle to hug a surprised PM. That this was not a pure gesture of peace when he, perhaps carried away by the partisan plaudits, winked at his colleagues, gifting a loose ball to PM who merrily ran away with it.
His spirited response also saw PM sketching his plank for the coming assembly elections and next year’s battle for Lok Sabha, with issues of political instability, assistance to poor, fight against graft and development emerging as major themes which may be amplified further in his Independence Day speech.
The poll season appeared to have descended early in Lok Sabha, with BJP attacking the opposition motion as lacking rationale other than a desire to oust PM Modi, and outlining the achievements of the NDA government as compared to the record of the Congress-led UPA.
The NDA numbers were intact, with MPs who had reported unwell or who have been in a dissident mode, also turning up to comply with the party whip. The unwelcome surprise for NDA was Shiv Sena’s decision to stay away from the debate and not vote with the government despite the party having issued a whip on Thursday.
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