Clearly short of numbers as the Narendra Modi government faces its first no-confidence motion moved by Telegu Desam Party (TDP) in Parliament today, Congress-led Opposition has said that they would “expose” the government before the country. BJP leaders and ministers have exuded confidence that it has the numbers in Lok Sabha to see off the challenge even as Shiv Sena announced that it will abstain from the voting.
Today’s no-confidence motion discussion in Lok Sabha is the 27th no-confidence motion in India’s Parliamentary history. And this is not the first time that a no-confidence has been moved against a BJP government and its Prime Minister. If we look back at the recent past, a motion of no-confidence was moved in the Lok Sabha in 2003 when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was in power and Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister. The no-confidence motion was moved by then Congress president Sonia Gandhi. However, the Vajpayee government managed to defeat the motion.
Interestingly, today’s no-confidence motion is the first since the one that took place 15 years back. There is a striking similarity regarding time-frame of the both the no-confidence motions as Lok Sabha elections were held in 2004 and the no-confidence motion was moved in 2003. Similarly this time general elections are scheduled for next and no-confidence motion has been moved one year ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
The significance of no-confidence
According to the Constitution, a government is eligible to remain in power only if it has the required numbers for a majority in Lok Sabha. Article 75(3) of India’s Constitution lays the down provision that Council of Ministers are collectively responsible to Lok Sabha. The rules of Lok Sabha has a mechanism called ‘no-confidence motion’ to test the collective responsibility. According to the rules, a Lok Sabha MP needs to garner the 50 lawmakers to introduce a no-confidence motion against the government. Subsequently, a discussion on the motion takes place. This time there seven-hour long debate on the no-confidence motion.
No-confidence motions – a timeline
The first no-confidence motion was moved during the third Lok Sabha in 1963 when Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister. The motion was moved by former Congress and Praja Socialist Party leader Acharya J B Kripalani. The motion, moved by 40 MPs was debated for 21 hours and lasted four days. Nehru successfully managed to defeat the motion.
The second no-confidence motion took place in 1964. An Independent MP N C Chatterjee moved the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. Shastri
From 1964-75, Lok Sabha saw a slew of a no-confidence motions, as many as 15. Among those, three were moved against ex-PM Shastri. Twelve no-confidence motions were moved against former PM Indira Gandhi. She went on to face three more confidence motions between 1981 and 1982. She had won all the trust votes thanks to the numbers her government had.
In 1979, Y B Chavan had moved a no-confidence motion against the government headed by Prime Minister Morarji Desai. Desai had resigned and this became the first no-confidence motion that led to fall of the government.
Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had faced a no-confidence motion in 1987 which he managed to defeat because of the overwhelming majority.
Jaswant Singh had moved a no-confidence motion against P V Narasimha Rao during the 10th Lok Sabha. Again Vajpayee had moved another no-confidence motion against Rao. Rao defeated with a margin of 14 votes.
The most intriguing and closest of the no-confidence motions in 1999 when the Vajpayee government lost the no-confidence motion by just 1 vote which led to fall of his government.