The Narendra Modi government is set to face its biggest test in four years since it stormed to power with a resounding majority. The no-confidence motion moved in the Lok Sabha will be discussed and voted on in Parliament today, the first in the last 15 years for any government in India. The numbers show that the BJP-led NDA is all set to win the trust vote given that it enjoys a brute majority in the Lower House. The current strength of the House is 533 and the magic figure is 267. This, after LokSabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan accepted BJD MP Jay Panda’s resignation on Thursday.
As far as numbers go, the BJP alone has 272 MPs, five more than the required number to sail through the trust vote. While BJP’s allies are largely expected to vote in the BJP’s favour, Shiv Sena which has 18 MPs marked a U-turn and said the final decision will be taken miuntes before the session begins. The Sena had on Thursday announced that it will vote against the opposition’s no-confidence motion. The BJP-led NDA currently has 315 MPs.
Interestingly, fence-sitters like AIADMK of Tamil Nadu, BJD of Odisha and TRS have also hinted that they may not vote in support of the opposition’s no-confidence motion, giving an upper hand to the ruling dispensation.
The last time a no-confidence motion was moved was on August 19, 2003. At that time too, the BJP-led NDA was in power and Atal Bihari Vajpayee was heading the government. Vajpayee had cleared the no-confidence vote with a majority of 312 to 186 votes after a two-day marathon discussion in the Lok Sabha. The motion was moved by then Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
This time, the motion has been moved by the TDP, once an ally of the ruling BJP-led NDA, although the Congress has been at the forefront of championing it in Parliament this session. The TDP had in the previous session moved the motion but it was not admitted by the Speaker. This time, however, the Speaker admitted the no-confidence motion and agreed for a debate followed by voting on Friday. The voting will take place at 6pm. The BJP sees this as an opportunity to gauge the unity among the opposition parties who have just 184 MPs including 48 MPs of the Congress.
In a parliamentary form of government, a government is allowed to function only when it enjoys a majority on the floor of the Lok Sabha or Lower House. A no-confidence motion can be moved by any member of the House in the Lok Sabha and not in the Rajya Sabha. It is moved when any of the members feel that the government of the day enjoys no majority. As per the rules, the member has to submit a notice of the motion with the Speaker.
Once it is moved, the Speaker reads it in the House. The motion must be backed by a minimum 50 MPs. The Speaker then announces the date and time for debate and voting. The rules say that the discussion and voting should be done within 10 days form the acceptance of the motion.
If the government proves majority on the floor of the House, it can continue to function. However, if it fails to cross the half-way mark, the government has to go.