PM Narendra Modi-led Union government on Friday smoothly sailed through the no-confidence motion brought by Telugu Desham Party to protest against the denial of Special Category tag to Andhra Pradesh. The no-confidence motion was put to vote after a marathon 12-hour debate. While 325 MPs exercised their franchise in favour of the BJP-led NDA government, the opposition led by the Congress saw only 126 MPs voting in favour of the motion. During the 12-hour-long discussion, leaders from both the camps were seen trading charges against each other on a host of issues the country is facing today. However, what hogged the limelight was Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s unexpected gesture on the floor of the House when he walked across the well of the House to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s desk to hug him.
The no-confidence motion against an elected government was brought after a gap of 15 years. The last time a no-confidence motion was accepted and put to vote was in August 2003 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was heading the BJP-led NDA government. The motion, which was moved by then Congress president Sonia Gandhi, was defeated with the NDA getting 312 votes in its favour against 186 of the opposition.
Thought the fate of yesterday’s no-confidence motion was well known to all even before it was accepted by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Wednesday, media across the world had their eyes on the Lok Sabha, eagerly waiting how leaders from both sides will corner each other and set the tone for 2019 General Elections. Most of the media reports said that the no-confidence motion brought only embarrassment to the Congress and other opposition parties who have been talking of a ‘united opposition’ to counter the BJP in next year’s polls. The opposition parties were expecting around 170-180 votes but parties like TRS (11MPs), BJD (19MPs) and AIADMK (37MPs) opted not to go with the Congress. While TRS and BJD staged a walkout, the AIADMK voted against the no-confidence motion. This also gave an opportunity to the BJP to gauge the mood of the regional and smaller parties ahead of the next year’s general elections.
Here we take a look at how the foreign media covered first no-confidence motion brought against the Modi government:
Bloomberg reported that the July 20 debate on the no-confidence motion against the Modi government was a “short version of the drama, debate, hugs, winks and votes”. In an article published on its website, the New York-based media group said the “vote comes at a challenging time for PM Modi as national and regional opposition parties have begun to organize coalition arrangements aimed at defeating the BJP that won the first single-party majority in 30 years in 2014”. It also noted that the no-confidence motion was moved against the Modi government at a time when India, a net oil importer, “suffers through a worsening macro economic outlook on the back of rising oil prices”.
The Gulf News reported that though the BJP prepared hard for the no-confidence motion, the government was not worried about the numbers given the fact that it enjoys a brute majority on the floor of the House, instead it was a test for the Congress that has been pushing for forging an alliance of the ‘like-minded’ parties to defeat the BJP when the country goes to polls next year.
The BBC reported that Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s hug startled PM Modi and others. But the reciprocation from Modi’s end, who it said is a prolific hugger himself, send a message that he didn’t mind this unusual gesture when he called Rahul back and shook hand with him and pat on the back.
Reuters also made a reference to Rahul Gandhi’s hug to PM Modi inside the Parliament. In an article ‘Modi stunned’, it said “after a poor start in politics, losing a string of elections to BJP, Rahul Gandhi is drawing crowds as he seeks to exploit PM Modi’s failure to create jobs he had promised to the youths of the country and decline in law and order situation”. It said that though PM Modi easily survived the no-confidence vote, thanks to majority BJP-led NDA enjoys, a 12-hour debate in which the saffron party and its allies battled with the Congress and its partners was a warm-up for elections due by May next year.
Pakistan’s Dawn reported that PM Modi defeated a no-confidence motion brought by a robust opposition, and the “heated debate was seen as setting the battle-lines for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections”. The daily noted the Congress’ remarks questioning the surgical strike by the Indian Army across the LoC in September 2016. It went on to add that PM Modi had “defended” the surgical strike (on the floor of the Lok Sabha) in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, which Pakistan claims never took place.