The “No Confidence” motion debated in Parliament on Friday, July 20, 2018 was won by the Narendra Modi-led BJP government after hours of intense discussions and long virtuoso performances. Though the Union government got 325 votes against 125 of the Opposition (which included TDP, Congress, TMC, SP among others), the debates generated important talking points and indicated rank discomfort in the NDA camp, with the NDA ally Shiv Sena abstaining from the trust vote, despite overtures from the BJP president, Amit Shah.
Telegu Desam Party MP Jayadev Galla started off as the first speaker of the No Confidence debate in Parliament. Terming it a “dharmayudh” between Modi regime at the Centre and Andhra Pradesh, he stated that the reason behind moving the no-confidence motion by the TDP was primarily due to the “lack of trust, priority, unbiased approach towards Andhra Pradesh”, demonstrated by the Union Government. He further proceeded to state that “two statues in Gujarat and Maharashtra are getting more money than the entire capital city of Andhra Pradesh (Amaravati),” and “TDP waited for four long years, but no justice has been done.” Galla’s contentions concentrated solely upon the Central government’s alleged discrimination against the State of Andhra Pradesh, post the establishment of Telangana. He further said that the Central government allotted Rs 1,050 Crore for the development of Rayalaseema region comprising of four districts against Rs. 23,500 crore sought by the state of Andhra Pradesh.
He was followed by BJP MP Rakesh Singh representing Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. He did not address any of the issues raised by the speaker before him, and started off by taking a jibe at Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge stating that because of the dynastic politics of INC he could not become its chief ministerial face for the Karnataka elections. He further held the motion to be an attempt to hinder BJP’s victory march in the 2019 national elections, and said that “Manmohan Singh said minorities have the first right on country’s resources. However, Modi gave new direction by saying that first right on country’s resources is of the poor.”
Singh was followed by Indian National Congress President Rahul Gandhi. During the course of his speech, he attacked Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman claiming that she had lied to the nation over the Rafale jet deal, facts pertaining to which he verified with the President of France himself over the course of a conversation, he claimed. Rahul Gandhi said: “the Defence Minister said the details of Rafale deal cannot be revealed as India has a secrecy pact with the French govt. The fact of the matter is that the French President has personally told me that there is no secret pact between the two governments. That contract was withdrawn from HAL and given to the gentleman who benefitted approximately Rs 40,000 crores. The Defence Minister has clearly spoken an untruth. The PM must explain whether the Cabinet committee on security benefitted from this dead. Why has a businessman benefitted?”
He also criticised demonetisation, the PM’s silence on the instances of mob lynching of Muslims and Dalits across the nation, as well as his lack of accessibility to the marginalised. He further labelled the Modi government’s promises as “jumla strikes” and proceeded to enlist them as follows: Jumla 1 being the promise to deposit Rs 15 lakh in every person’s account; Jumla 2 being the generation of employment for two crore people every year; Jumla 3 being the PM Modi only helping a few businessmen and ignoring poor people, as the businessmen pump money into Modi’s marketing team; Jumla 4 being demonetisation; and Jumla 5 being the Rafale deal. He further added that he bore no hatred towards the PM or BJP, even though they abused him and called him “Pappu” among other abuses, and walked over to the PM across the aisle and embraced him. Although the hug, and and a winking gesture made by Rahul Gandhi were deemed to be “unparliamentary”, and his comments would be subject to a privilege motion by the BJP for misleading the parliament and “levelling false accusations” without substantive proof, it was none other than Gandhi who hogged the headlines throughout the day for giving the country an unforgettable image of camaraderie with the political rivals and for his aggressive takedown of the central government’s many perceived failures.
Photo Credit: Lok Sabha TV
Gandhi was followed by AITMC’s Saugata Roy, who stated that the walkout of Shiv Sena, a BJP ally, instead of them voting in favour of the BJP displayed an erosion of trust. He further cited the instances of BJP losing by-polls in various states, which reflected the loss in confidence in its government. He further commented upon a Modi syndicate comprising of the PM, Lalit Modi, and Nirav Modi which was looting the nation, which was met with loud protestations from the Government’s side. He also highlighted the travel costs of the PM amounting to upwards of Rs 1800 crores, with no benefits to show as returns.
Post Saugata Roy, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh took to the floor. Citing the rise of the BJP from having only 2 MPs in the house to now being single biggest political party, he held the no confidence motion to be an affront to the will of the people. Praising Modi’s appeal in lieu of which lakhs of people gave up their LPG subsidies, he states that the BJP had never considered dissolving a democratically elected government during the UPA regime. He further attacked the opposition for lacking internal trust and responded to the issue of lynchings by urging state governments to make the stricter of laws to curb the menace, and reminded the House about the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as the biggest case of mob lynching witnessed by the nation. Responding to TDP’s contentions, he stated that most of the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act were implemented, and the remaining would follow soon.
Finally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke and he chided the Congress president for being in a “hurry” to come to power. PM Modi also talked about various government schemes that have benefitted India and even spoke of the benefits of demonetisation, and the savings incurred thereof. However, the buzz in the corridors of Parliament as well as the chatter in the media indicated that this time PM Modi had been thorough eclipsed by his chief political rival and the ideological opposite — Rahul Gandhi.