What fate awaits No Confidence Motion?

Anil Anand

A more united and rejuvenated opposition and equally vulnerable BJP-led ruling NDA, after recent bi-election losses and allies squirming and walking out of the combine, would enter the portals of Parliament House when it assembles for monsoon session. Under the circumstances and with sights set on 2019-Lok Sabha polls, it will be interesting to see as to what fate awaits the opposition sponsored Non Confidence Motion against the Narendra Modi Government.
At the cost of running the risk of being termed as a doomsayer one can safely say that the Session is all but gone. There are many reasons that could be attributed to this pessimist view. But the strongest of them all are decline in BJP’s numerical strength in Lok Sabha as the retributions are on account of bi-poll defeats and angry and dissatisfied old and trusted allies such as N Chandrababu Naidu’s Telegu Desam Party slamming the door on BJP’s face and an unpredictable Shiv Sena blowing hot and cold not to talk of other fence sitters like Biju Janata Dal and Shiromani Akali Dal.
It would be politically naive for anyone to write obituary of Modi Government (read BJP) at this stage but it is crystal clear that the ruling party’s tryst with destiny seems to be on the decline as it has lost eight Lok Sabha seats on the trot during the last over two years. As a result the BJP, minus its allies, now has 273 MPs in the 545 Lower House of Parliament which is only one more than the half-may mark. The problem has been further compounded with Modi-Amit Shah duo taking the NDA allies far granted during the last four years. The alienation among the supporting parties is more palpable as the general elections approach as neither the Prime Minister nor the BJP chief have held a single meeting with them during this period. The tradition set by former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee of periodically holding consultations with the allies is a pass√© now.
Under these circumstances it will be interesting to see whether the opposition parties as also the erstwhile NDA ally TDP will further press for the No Confidence Motion since it can give the ruling dispensation a reason to ensure that House does not function even if the opposition benches desired the proceedings go as normal. In the event of smooth acceptance of the Motion by the Chair, the ruling alliance could have trying moments under these circumstances of utter political confusion with the Government’s top fire-fighter Finance Minister Arun Jaitley convalescing after a kidney transplant surgery, PM Modi unlike Vajpayee abhorring opening direct channels with political adversaries and disgruntled leaders, and Amit Shah’s unpopularity among the allies due to his aggressive attitude.
Given the upbeat mood in the opposition camp, which is still in the process to close ranks to face the might of Modi, and given the backdrop of examples set by none other than the then Leaders of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, it seems unlikely that the opposition would relent, even if they desist from creating pandemonium and give a handle to the treasury benches to adjourn proceedings, and allow the business as usual in the coming Session.
Not that the stalemate and resultant non-functioning of the two Houses of Parliament during Budget Session was entirely the outcome of an aggressive opposition. It was mostly due to protesting TDP, before it quit the NDA, and YSR Congress Party, and occasionally even the BJP benches taking their chance in the shouting melee.
Since the TDP is now out of the NDA bracket and five out of nine Members of the YSR Congress have already resigned from their membership and their resignations are likely to be accepted by the Speaker before start of the monsoon Session, the configuration for the ruling dispensation had undergone further change for the worst. Will the party chief Jaganmohan Reddy and other remaining MPs also quit before the Session? The TDP and particularly the YSR Congress MPs were blamed by the Opposition parties for becoming a pawn in the hands of the Government in disrupting the House and thereby preventing the taking up of the No Confidence Motion.
The BJP’s own words, when it was in the opposition and just before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, that disrupting Parliament is important and not allowing Parliament to function is also a form of democracy, like any other form, might further haunt the ruling party if the opposition decides to go on the offensive. None other than Jaitley and Swaraj are the authors of these theories who incidentally are on the other side of the fence now and having taste of the medicine that they once prescribed to others.
No doubt it will not be a smooth sailing for Modi Government given the fact that he and his team are in greater poll mode than the opposition and making a common cause with the opposition even on issues of national importance does not seem to be in the former’s charter. The only silver lining could be that the opposition might come out with a new strategy whereby it could embarrass the Government on the floor of the two Houses and at the same time not allow smooth functioning. They might not press for No Confidence Motion beyond a point but keep the pot boiling.
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